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  • Jess Fealy

    TropicNow Reporter

    Email Jess Fealy

    Too much booze, too little fruit for North Queenslanders

    A landmark study released today highlights the gaps in health status between North Queenslanders and the state average.

    The verdict from a landmark report into the health of North Queenslanders is in: we all need to drink less booze, eat more fruit and vegetables, quit smoking and exercise regularly.

    But shouldn’t we know that already?

    The report released today shows 3.5 percent more Cairns residents engage in "lifetime risky alcohol consumption" than the Queensland average (23.3 per cent vs 19.8 per cent).

    Cairns is also home to 3.7 per cent more smokers than the Queensland average.

    On the plus side, we engage in the same level of exercise as the state average, with 60.1 per cent of us doing 30+ minutes of moderate physical exercise at least 5 days a week.

    The report - released today by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) - was commissioned to identify and analyse the health and service needs of North Queensland from Mackay to the Cape.

    Other key findings included:

    • 55 per cent of people in North Queensland eat the recommended daily fruit intake (compared to 58 per cent in Queensland overall)
    • Almost two in three people in the region are overweight or obese (five per cent higher than Queensland overall)
    • One in two women in the Torres Strait and Cape York region smoke during pregnancy (compared to one in six in Queensland overall).
    • The life expectancy in the Torres Strait and Cape York region is on average 12 years less than the state average for Queensland
    • The diabetes rate in Torres and Cape is four times higher than that of Queensland
    • Overall, the leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer, with suicide the leading cause of death for 15-45 year olds

    NQPHN CEO Robin Moore said the Health Needs report has been a major undertaking and highlights the diversity of the population across the Northern Queensland region.

    “We support a high proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rural and remote persons, often living in situations of social isolation, mining communities with large numbers of fly-in fly-out workers and a high proportion of young families who often have complex maternal and early childhood needs,” he said.

    Understanding how to best provide health services to Indigenous people in rural and remote areas will be crucial to achieving improved health outcomes in NQPHN, Mr Moore said.

    NQPHN will now re-allocate resources and funding to the key priority areas identified in the report, while also working to streamline and co-ordinate health services.

    Mr Moore said more work was also needed to help the local community navigate through the maze of our health system.

    Click here to read the NQPHN Health Needs Assessment (June 2016) report