OBESITY rates are 30 to 35% higher in regional areas in Queensland and 40 to 50% higher in remote areas.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg also told Queensland Parliament that 57.7% of Queensland adults were overweight or obese, the highest in Australia, with projections showing the figure would jump to about 63% by 2017.
He said more than a quarter of Queensland children were overweight or obese, the second highest figure in Australia.
Mr Springborg said obesity reduced median survival by two to four years, with life reduced eight to 10 years for severely obese people.
He said these figures were the reason the government was launching a "highly graphic" public awareness campaign, including television commercials, with a parental guidance recommendation.
The campaign, which cannot be screened in general viewing timeslots, will cost between $7.5 million and $8.5 million over three years.
The controversial messages are based on the Western Australian government's Live Lighter campaign, featuring graphic images similar to those used in effective anti-smoking and road safety messages.
"High body mass has now exceeded smoking as the largest single risk factor contributing to the burden of disease in Queensland," Mr Springborg said.
"Obesity was estimated at a cost of $391 million to the health system in Queensland in 2008.
"That does not include the cost to the community and the economic cost overall.
"The health problems as a consequence of being overweight or obese are many and varied, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, sleep apnoea and musculoskeletal problems.
"Many of these problems are preventable through a healthy and active lifestyle."
Cancer Council Queensland spokeswoman Katie Clift said the softer tactics to move people towards healthier lifestyles had not been working well.
She said being obese increased the risk of chronic disease and some cancers.
"We want to see people reduce their risk of cancer, live healthier and boost their quality of life, and hopefully a harder-hitting campaign will help achieve this," she said.