According to a recent study, the life expectancy of those living in outlying areas is up to 40 percent shorter than those living in the city.
The data shows that Australians living in the lower socioeconomic districts are dying far younger, a fact largely attributed to the rural area’s lack of essential services and increased rates of obesity and smoking.
The study, published by the University of Melbourne, dives into de-identified death registration data from 2006 – 2016. “Even within major cities, there has been a widening in inequalities in death rates between lower and higher area socioeconomic deciles, but notably no slowdown in the rate of mortality decline in the highest deciles,” the study states.
The University of Melbourne’s Global Burden of Disease Group’s Dr Tim Adair, told the Guardian Australia he is particularly concerned about obesity prevalence in young women.
“In particular it’s getting worse among younger adults, and as they grow older this will become more concerning as they will get to ages where obesity can interact with other health conditions and it may well have a detrimental impact on life expectancy.
“So there is an element of men catching up to women as this gap between men and women reduces,” he said.
Racial divide cannot be ignored
The Public Health Advocacy Institute Western Australia’s former director Dr Melissa Stoneham pointed out that remote communities are largely comprised of indigenous people.
“A lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders live in remote communities, especially in the Northern Territory and Western Australia,” she said in the Guardian Australia.
“We know that their life expectancy is a lot lower than non-Indigenous people. A lot of regional communities are also farming communities, with young people not having same opportunities on farms as they used to and leaving, creating an older age demographic [that are] more prone to diseases and with more difficulty accessing healthcare.”
“Of course, getting services into those remote communities is a very expensive to do,” she said.
“It’s true some people choose to live in these communities but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to access the same services. They are people, living in our country. Why wouldn’t you buy a ready meal of hot chips when fruit and vegetables are so expensive and a significant chunk of your income or social security payment?”