Pinjarra’s got more than just waistline problems

The Murray town of Pinjarra made headlines last week as Australia’s ‘fattest town’, with the nation's highest rate of overweight and obese people over the age of 18.

The data, obtained from the Australia Bureau of Statistics, was released by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration in their Australia’s Health Trackers map, and revealed 76.2 per cent of Pinjarra’s population over the age of 18 was either overweight or obese.

This translates to 4205 residents having a body mass index of 25 or more, and 2156 of those being considered obese.

However, people in the Shire of Murray has more to worry about than just a few extra pounds.

The data also showed other health-related problems such as a significantly high smoking rate, and a premature death from cancer rate sitting among WA’s ten highest. 

Between 2009 and 2013, 43 people between the ages of 30 and 69 died prematurely due to cancer, equating to a standarised rate of 182.4 premature deaths per 100,000 people.

More than a quarter of Pinjarra’s population, 25.4 per cent, are also regular smokers, and 37.7 per cent of people over the age of 18 have a high blood cholesterol rate.

Shire of Murray chief Dean Unsworth said the Shire’s Murray Leisure Centre provided “a diverse range of fitness and leisure programs for all ages and abilities” in an attempt to “combat social issues such as obesity and behavioural problems”. 

“From children, teen and senior fitness classes to junior swimming, social and competitive sporting events and school holiday programs, the Murray Leisure Centre offers activities to suit all residents,” he said.

Mr Unsworth also said the Shire has made available a new mobile fitness program called Pop Up Fitness for residents who can’t make it to the centre.

The program aims to bring fitness classes into the community to try to increase their fitness level.

It is understood the alarming health statistics are related to Pinjarra’s position within the lower socioeconomic bracket together with a high unemployment rate.