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Covering the Central Highlands
Central West Queensland

Government & Schools

18 December, 2020

Central Queensland Health lags behind state average

THE QUEENSLAND State Government’s plan to make Queenslanders the healthiest people in the world by the year 2030, as laid out in the Health Destination 2030 plan, faces some serious challenges.

According to the latest government statistics Central Queenslanders lag behind the rest of the state on several important health matters.

Fifteen percent are daily smokers which is a 42 percent higher rate than the rest of Queensland; 30 percent are obese which is 20 percent higher than the rest of the state; 24 percent of adults are risky drinkers, a 10 percent higher rate than the rest of the state; while 29 percent of Central Queenslanders have a mental illness which is a little over the state average by two percent.

The Director of Central Queensland Public Health Unit Dr Gulam Khandaker said the 2020

Chief Health Officer report on the Health of Queenslanders, released on November 5, offered an interesting insight into tobacco smoking in Central Queensland.

“While there had been a slight increase from 2018 in the general smoking statistics, the number of women who smoked during pregnancy had decreased slightly by one percent to 16 percent,” said Dr Khandaker.

He said the statistics revealed that there was still a lot of work to be done to make an impact and reach Destination 2030’s 9.5 percent target, despite Central Queensland being a top performer in Queensland Quitline referrals and registrations,” said Khandaker.

“Since 2009, Central Queensland’s adult smoking trends had seen a 2.1 percent annual decrease in daily smoking, with smoking cessation increasing by 0.7 percent annually.

“Our adult daily smoking rate remains the third highest in Queensland behind other regional Hospital and Health Services of Torres and Cape and North West.,” Khandaker said.

The 2030 report noted that populations with historically higher smoking prevalence will take longer to fully realise the benefits of increasing smoking cessation trends.”

“In recent COVID times Quitline registrations decreased across Queensland, and anecdotal reports from Central Queensland community organisations revealed some ex-smokers had taken up the habit again in stressful times,” Khandaker said.

On the subject of obesity the doctor said there were many programs and a lot of information available for people who wanted to achieve a healthy weight.

“Every one of us needs to take responsibility for living our healthiest life and this means reducing portion sizes, eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and doing more physical activity,” Khandaker said.

“Obesity contributes to many chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some lifestyle-related cancers, and it causes joint and back pain.”

The number of risky drinkers in Central Queensland is of concern to Khandaker.

There is a long list of ill effects caused by alcohol, including violence, injury due to falls, dehydration and behavioural problems,” the doctor explained.

“There are also long-term effects for those with repeated and regular high alcohol consumption leading to health consequences including liver disease, cancers, heart and blood vessel illnesses, damage to muscles and bones and digestive disorders.”

Drinking during pregnancy also raises the risks of birth defectes, learning difficulties and behaviour problems for babies.

“There is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to Central Queenslanders’ health and wellbeing, and it is up to every one of us to make healthy choices that will ultimately help us get the most out of life.” the doctor advised.

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