Obesity link to footpath shortage

Sunday Telegraph

Sunday 29 June 2003

Healthy: Take a walk
by national political writer SIMON KEARNEY

A SENIOR federal government member has blamed a shortage of footpaths in western Sydney for obesity.

Prime Minister's Parliamentary Sec­retary Jackie Kelly says the lack of foot­paths in Western Sydney discouraged people from walking.

Ms Kelly, whose elec­torate of Lindsay centres on Penrith, is calling for a debate about the adequacy of foot­paths in newer sub­urbs. She said the State Government should use its stamp duty windfall to build more pavements.

Ms Kelly said Pen­rith had 55.8 km of foot­paths and Penrith South had only 13.l km. In contrast. the affluent north-shore suburb of Mosman had 360 km of footpaths.

"We've got beautiful park areas and these are just not accessible," she said.

"In the leafy suburbs all the footpaths lead somewhere, ours don't even go on both sides of the road. In Mosman they go into recreational areas, ours go to shops."

Ms Kelly said the lack of footpaths was contributing to pock­ets of obesity in western Sydney.

Her research showed 19 per cent of women from disadvantaged areas were obese com­pared to 11 per cent from advantaged areas. "Women are time poor, if you're looking after children it is hard to go to the gym, instead you just go out and go for a walk," she said.

She said the Government should be using some of its stamp duty windfall to fund more footpaths. "We're pay­ing these big stamp duties, we don't mind doing that if we get the community services such as footpaths."