The western side of Tamworth is officially the fattest place in the nation, with eight out of 10 adults overweight and almost half obese.
Almost 80 per cent of adults are overweight, while 48 per cent of those are obese, placing the area – made up of Westdale, Coledale, Taminda and half of West Tamworth – on top of the fat totem pole, according to the most recent statistics from the Australian Health Policy Collaboration.
The figures far exceed the national overweight (63.5 per cent) and obesity (27.5 per cent) averages.
The children in the west Tamworth area are also facing a fat crisis, with 13 per cent obese – the sixth highest in NSW and 13th highest in Australia.
Hunter New England Health clinical nurse consultant Matt Crawford said it can be expensive to eat health.
“Patients will often tell me it’s all well and good for them to be recommended what to eat, but as far as affordability is concerned, it’s prohibitive,” Mr Crawford said.
The two-week welfare payment cycle can also make it difficult to be healthy.
“I talked to one woman who said when it wasn’t pay week, for her kids she would get a couple of cheap loaves of white bread, $5 of hot chips and everyone got fed on a small budget,” Mr Crawford said.
Coledale Community Centre is already trying to tackle the problem with a program called Stay Healthy, Stay Deadly.
The program encourages people to make healthy life decisions and involves tailored group exercises, followed by an information session, which is then reinforced with a healthy lunch.
The rest of Tamworth doesn’t escape the fat spotlight. In South Tamworth, Hillvue, Calala, Kingswood and the other half of West Tamworth, 71.1 per cent of adults are overweight, while 38.5 per cent of those are obese.
In Oxley Vale, North Tamworth, East Tamworth and Nemingha, 68.8 per cent are overweight and 35.6 per cent are obese.
Professor Rosemary Calder, public health expert and director of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, told Fairfax Media that childhood obesity was a powerful risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory conditions, cancer and depression.
“For obesity to be at such high levels among this young group, something is going very wrong,” Professor Calder said.
“This is a generation that our health system is going to have to manage.”