Objectives To identify smaller geographic and region-specific evidence to inform population health planning for overweight and obesity.
Design Cross-sectional secondary analysis of data.
Setting Primary healthcare—17 general practices located in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven region of New South Wales (NSW).
Participants A subset (n=36 674) of the Sentinel Practices Data Sourcing project adult persons data set (n=118 794) that included information on disease status of all adult patients who had height and weight measurements recorded in their electronic health records and had visited the included general practices within the Illawarra-Shoalhaven region of NSW between September 2011 and September 2013.
Main outcome measures Age-adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of overweight and obesity was determined for high and low levels of socioeconomic disadvantage based on Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)—Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage (IRSD) scores of patients' residential statistical local area.
Results In men, overweight was lowest in areas of highest socioeconomic disadvantage (aOR=0.910; 95% CI 0.830 to 0.998; p<0.001); but no statistically significant association with socioeconomic score was found for women. Overall obesity was associated with high socioeconomic disadvantage (aOR=1.292; 95% CI 1.210 to 1.379; p<0.001).
Conclusions This type of data analysis reveals multiple layers of evidence that should be assessed for population health approaches to curb the epidemic of obesity and overweight. It strongly highlights the need for preventive health initiatives to be specific to gender and socioeconomic attributes of the target population.