A new Australia-wide study has found that people living in rural areas are more likely to consume alcohol and be overweight and obese.
The Roy Morgan State of the Nation Report 11 looked at 10 987 city-dwellers across Australia and compared them to 8 049 living in country regions.
During the study, which ran for 12 months up until March this year, found 72.2 per cent of people living in the country consumed alcohol in an average four-week period, while 68 per cent of city slickers drank alcohol in the same period.
The availability of new, fancy drinks in the country could be one reason they consume standard beers, spirits and ready-to-drink products (RTD’s).
People living in the cities, on the other hand, have more availability to a range of different beverages and are more likely to drink wines and ciders.
The health and weight impacts alcohol is known to have impact the country drinkers, with 35 per cent of people considered to be overweight, almost five per cent higher than the number of people of an acceptable weight.
By comparison, almost 40 per cent of city dwellers are considered to be an acceptable weight, and there are less people considered to be overweight than in the country.
The availability of public transport in urban areas also contribute to people’s weight and health, according to numerous studies, which show that those who use public transport take, on average, over 200 extra steps than their driving counterparts, meaning they are more likely to reach their recommended daily exercise targets.
Research by Environment and sustainability expert and adjunct professor fat Curtin University ,Darren Bilsborough, said public transport has significant economic and health benefits.
'When you get rid of cars, you need fewer roads and you can use that space for other things,” he said.
“The real issue is getting more people more active more quickly and to do that you need to get more cars off the road and get more public transport working.”
Beyond issues of transport and alcohol, the awareness of health and exercise is much higher in city areas, according to Norman Morris from Roy Morgan.
“The State of the Nation report also identified reduced participation in sport and exercise for country residents compared to those in the city, as well as less agreement with healthy eating attitudes, such as thinking about calorie consumption and concern for holesterol levels,” he said.
“The increased prevalence of drinking, and a larger body mass among country residents is concerning given the reduced medical services available in rural areas.
“Although, as part of the focus on rural Australia, a Roy Morgan Poll telephone survey on country residents found that only 5 per cent considered health to be the most important issue facing Australia today.”
Earlier this week, a nation-wide survey by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) found almost 80 per cent of Australians think that, as a nation, we have a problem with alcohol.