Alarming new figures have ranked Moyne Shire in the top five most obese council areas in the state.
A new report by the Mitchell Institute and Victoria University found 71.8 per cent of Moyne's population were overweight or obese, making them the fourth worst council area below Golden Plains, Moorabool and Melton.
It also found that 28.5 per cent of Moyne's young people were overweight or obese.
Moyne Shire councillor Jim Doukas was quick to question the weighty figures.
"I think they've got it wrong," he said.
"If you have a look around we punch above our weight when it comes to sport, we've got a good footy team, great cricket teams and there's a lot of sport played in the area.
"I don't know how they work it out."
Professor Rosemary Calder from the Mitchell Institute said low socio-economic communities are often regional areas as they "seldom have the physical infrastructure that supports healthy lifestyles."
Cr Doukas said the shire welcomed any funding into new infrastructure.
"I wouldn't say it lacks the physical infrastructure, but we could do with improvement," he said.
"If they make the claim we don't have the infrastructure, then why don't they provide the infrastructure?
"Moyne is always looking for state and federal funding into out sports facilities. If we're obese and in the top five, then why don't they do something about it?"
According to the numbers, this is how the south-west tips the scales:
- Warrnambool: 68 per cent, or 16,532 adults are obese or overweight, and 27 per cent, or 2,113 youth are obese or overweight
- Corangamite: 69.9 per cent, or 8,384 adults are obese or overweight, and 30.2 per cent, or 1,132 youth are obese or overweight
- Southern Grampians: 65.3 per cent, or 7,753 adults are obese or overweight, and 27.2 per cent, or 961 youth are obese or overweight
- Glenelg: 69 per cent, or 10,219 adults are obese or overweight, and 27.9 per cent, or 1,151 of youth are obese or overweight
Researchers said the data by area is the latest publicly available data from 2014-15 while national average overweight and obesity is from 2017-18. Data is sourced from: the ABS, Australian Health Survey 2017-18, 2014-15, 2011-12.
But further prodding appears to show that the data isn't necessarily based on researchers coming to the shire, but on 'modelled estimates' which report notes read "should be used with caution, and treated as indicative of the likely social dimensions present in an area with these demographic and socioeconomic characteristics."
"What the modelled estimates do achieve, however, is to summarise the various demographic, socioeconomic and administrative information available for an area in a way that indicates the expected level of each health indicator for an area with those characteristics," it goes on to say.
Moyne Shire mayor Mick Wolfe said the numbers were concerning.
"It is concerning to see the report showing Moyne Shire has one of the largest populations of overweight or obese adults in Victoria," he said.
"While the figure of over 70 per cent is very disappointing, it isn't a surprise when you consider the obesity trends in regional areas of Australia.
"This is why council continues to focus on partnering with government, regional and local organisations, and community groups to work on practical ways to improve the health of our residents.
"We have invested in a range of projects and programs that aim to get people living a more active, healthier lifestyle, such a upgrades to sport facilities and playgrounds, improvements to walking and bike paths and education opportunities like health forums and workshops."
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