REGIONAL Queensland children are more likely to be overweight or obese and at risk of developing type-2 diabetes than their Brisbane cousins.
Queensland Health statistics show almost every regional Queensland city has a higher rate of overweight or obese children than the capital.
Only the Sunshine Coast and Cairns have lower rates of children who are overweight or obese than Brisbane's north.
In north Brisbane, 21.5 per cent of children are overweight or obese, compared to 23.3 per cent on the Gold Coast, 26.2 per cent in Wide Bay, 27.2 per cent in Central Queensland, 27.3 per cent on the Darling Downs, 27.6 per cent in Mackay, 28 per cent in Ipswich and 30.7 per cent in Townsville.
Experts say mandatory testing for type-2 diabetes in regional emergency rooms could save lives and millions of dollars, while forming healthy exercise habits through regional sport can help with prevention.
This obesity data comes days after we revealed that regional children are quitting school far earlier than their city counterparts. In Brisbane, 81per cent of children get to the end of Year 12, but the figure is barely 50per cent in some rural areas.
It is what caused us to launch Fair Go For Our Kids, a campaign aimed at lifting education resourcing in the regions and addressing associated youth problems.
Diabetes Australia statistics show 81per cent of Queenslanders with type-2 diabetes registered with the National Diabetes Services Scheme live outside Brisbane.
That's 166,465 people.
Health groups have warned being overweight or obese from a young age significantly increases the risk of long-term chronic diseases.
Diabetes Queensland has called on both major parties to commit to introduce type-2 diabetes screening at hospital emergency departments.
A western Sydney trial of mandatory diabetes testing found 47% of all ED patients had either diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Diabetes Queensland CEO Michelle Trute said there were 100,000 Queenslanders who had type-2 diabetes and did not know it.
"We need to find these people; if we don't then every year that goes by their symptoms are getting worse," she said.
"If people are getting blood work done at an emergency room, then we should be doing this test as well."
Professor Trute said regional hospitals had the opportunity to be ahead of the curve if this was rolled out.
"People will say that this will end up with more people needing treatment and imposing more cost and effort on our health system. But that's a cop out. These people already have type-2 diabetes," she said.
"If we can pick it up earlier than we are at the moment, then we will reduce the treatment they need later and avoid the high cost to the health system."
Professor Trute said a person who was overweight or obese as a child was more likely to develop type-2 diabetes as an adult.
"We need to encourage kids to stay away from soft drinks and unhealthy food and to get out there and play sport," she said.
"Good habits that our kids learn at an early age prepare them for the world ahead.
"As adults we know a popular form of stress relief is exercise. If our kids aren't forming exercise habits, not only will they have challenges with overall physical health, they may also have issues with dealing with the stresses of life, too." - NewsRegional
WHAT WE WANT
Goal: Lower risk of chronic diseases for regional children.
How we get there:
* Mandate type-2 diabetes screening in regional emergency departments.
* Get more regional kids playing sport.
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