GYMPIE is facing a fat attack, with more than 25,000 residents battling the bulge.
A special The Gympie Times' investigation reveals the region's shocking health problem.
New University of Adelaide research shows 5468 men and 5479 women living in the Gympie Regional Council area are obese while 6560 men and 4487 women are overweight.
That adds up to a whopping 21,994, or 43.9%, of the region's 50,000 residents.
Gympie has the sixth highest level of overweight residents in Queensland and the region sits at 17 on the overweight ladder.
The Banana Shire has the state's highest obesity and overweight burdens.
Weight-related health problems cost the nation's hospital system about $4 billion each year, the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study found.
The shocking statistics follow the release of a study which found losing weight slowly was the only way to keep the pounds off.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology published a report that found people who lost the kilos rapidly regained them faster than those who shed weight over a longer period.
Gympie food expert Tim Black said taking small steps was the key to losing weight.
"Slow weight loss is more sustainable because it tells me someone has been able to change their habits and maintain that change," the Access Allied Health dietician said.
"Whereas with quick weight loss someone may have made a change to their lifestyle or they may have just done a short-term non sustainable fad style of diet and they just go back to their old eating habits once it's finished."
University of Southern Queensland Biomedical Sciences Professor Lindsay Brown said slow and steady would make the difference in the battle of the bulge.
"They should be looking at half to one kilogram a month and that will stay off," Prof Brown said.
- APN NEWSDESK