A national report, collated by 40 organisations, with 70 experts, told us last week that Northern Tasmania was one of the unhealthiest populations in Australia.
These expert researchers told us every single local government area in our region had higher rates of obesity than the national average. Higher smoking rates. Higher rates of physical inactivity. Worse cholesterol measurements. Higher blood pressure.
They also told us socio-economic disadvantage was closely linked to these poor health outcomes.
This is not groundbreaking information. We’ve known for a long time that health in our region is worse than the national average. Before people start talking about fat shaming and letting people live their lives as they please, it’s important to remember that it actually is a matter of life and death.
Not to mention, a massive burden on our already overstretched hospital system.
As I’ve written before, the strain of preventative chronic illness on our health services cannot be fixed by individuals, without help from their communities.
The clear links between socio-economic disadvantage and poor health show us that improving the economy would, in itself, make a big difference.
But, beyond that, we can start by creating an environment where being healthy is easy.
Things like making fresh, healthy food affordable and accessible for people living in remote areas or on tight budgets, and making unhealthy food less accessible and affordable. Improving public transport and infrastructure, so that people can walk and cycle safely.
Preventative health needs to be a key priority for all parties in the lead-up to the state election. If it’s not, whoever wins government will have to continue managing a health system in crisis, which will only become worse. And that’s never good for a governing party’s politics.