Heavyweight champs: Orange residents in battle of the bulge

RICHARD EGGLESTON isn’t surprised to learn half of Orange’s residents are obese or overweight.

Having successfully battled the bulge and dropped from 137 kilograms to his current weight of 83 kilograms, Mr Eggleston says you only have to look at what people are eating and how much exercise they’re doing to know Orange has a problem.

A health study compiled by Bowel Cancer Australia includes information on a range of bowel cancer risk factors such as smoking, high alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and obesity and found Orange rated poorly when it came to weight management.

The study found 24 per cent of Orange men aged 18 years and over were obese while 17.5 women fitted the criteria.

It also found 36.2 per cent of men were overweight along with 23.4 percent of women.

It seems more men than women are losing the battle of the bulge, with the rate of obesity now one-in-four for adult males in Orange and almost one-in-six for adult women.

Mr Eggleston started losing weight in 2006 after he grew tired of being “humiliated” by not being able to wear the clothes he wanted and realising he lacked energy and was unhealthy.

“I grew up as a heavy child and first started dieting when I was 10 years old, and repeated my weight loss attempts until I was 23 when it just clicked,” he said.

Mr Eggleston blames sugar and processed foods for packing on the weight.

“Eating out can also be a problem with many restaurants serving oversized portions or unhealthy food,” he said.

“People also need to find time to exercise every day.”

Since losing weight he’s already run the City to Surf, seven half marathons and a marathon with plans to do more in the future. 

Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive Julien Wiggins said his organisation’s data provided an opportunity for communities to focus attention on health behaviours which could be improved.

“Around 70 per cent of bowel cancer cases are linked to modifiable diet and lifestyle factors,” Mr Wiggins said.

“By adding these risk factors into our atlas [study], we’re hoping that people will have a look at how their community is faring and start to think hard about making any necessary changes.

“Unfortunately, no-one can promise that if you do all the right things, you won’t get bowel cancer. We can’t change other factors such as our age or genetic make-up.”

But the healthy eating message seems to be getting through, at least to the region’s children.

The study found 56.2 per cent of children in Orange aged five to 17 are having two or more serves of fruit each day, compared with just 48.7 per cent of the adult population.

However Orange falls behind Bathurst, with 61.5 per cent of its children having two or more serves of fruit a day and well behind Oberon where 63 per cent of children are getting the required intake of fruit.

The figures are based on the 2007-08 National Health Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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