A passenger waits for a delayed flight at Heathrow airport's terminal four in London August 12, 2006. Reuters/Toby Melville

Darling Downs has been declared as the most obese location in Australia. The residents in Queensland’s southeast region were named the “fattest” Australians, and nearly quarters of them do not engage in sufficient physical activity.

According to statistics released by the Heart Foundation, more than 44 percent of Darling Downs’ people are obese. Residents in NSW’s Riverina region were found to be one-third obese with 81 percent unable to complete two and a half hours a week of moderate to rigorous physical activity required to maintain good health.

SMH reports that the Mayor Rod Kendall from the city of Wagga Wagga was surprised by the findings. He suggested that the convenience of the city’s abundance of free parking may have contributed to the lack of physical activity. “If you live in a country tow, you park in front of the shop you shop in. Maybe that convenience of access is something that’s working against us,” said the mayor.

The Heart Foundation report also found Sydney’s outer west and Blue Mountains, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, the Central Coast and the far west and Orana as the other worst-performing regions in NSW. The fittest areas in Australia are Sydney’s eastern suburbs. A little more than quarter of its residents does not get the recommended exercise. Only less than 14 percent were found to be obese.

Among the top ten healthiest regions in Australia were North Sydney and Hornsby, Sydney’s central business district and inner south. The highest proportion of obese residents belonged to the town of Shepparton in Victoria. About 36 percent of residents are obese and lack physical activity necessary to health.

Residents of inner Melbourne were declared the leanest with only less than 14 percent of the population found obese. About 30 percent of the residents do not get the recommended weekly exercise.

NSW had the second-lowest proportion of obese residents compared to any other state with 26.4 percent. Victoria beat NSW with 25.7 percent of obese residents. However, NSW has the most number of people who get enough physical activity necessary for good health.

On a national scale, 27.5 percent of adults in Australia are obese while 57 percent do not engage in sufficient exercise for good health. Mary Barry, chief executive of Heart Foundation, said the statistics were both alarming and sobering. She added that the data revealed how nearly a third of Australians have become obese as more people live sedentary lifestyles.

“The truth is as a nation our waistlines are increasing while our physical activity time is decreasing,” said Barry. She warned that Australians are growing bodies that become “breeding grounds for heart disease.” She recommended losing weight and staying active for 30 minutes daily can add more years to a person’s life.

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