Residents of Katherine live 15 years less than the national average.
The town's rate of premature mortality is more than twice the national level and a "major concern", says researcher Professor John Glover.
New data released this week reveals the alarming health gap between Australia's most advantaged population and their disadvantaged counterparts.
In large and wealthy capital cities, the median age of death, a good indicator of premature mortality, is 85 years in Ballina, New South Wales and 89 years in Ashburton in Melbourne.
In remote Northern Territory, where resources are scarce, the median age of death is closer to 50 years in communities dotted across East Arnhem and Nhulunbuy and 66 years in Katherine.
"One of the final measures of disadvantage is the rate of deaths before 75 years of age and that rate in Katherine is over twice the level across Australia as a whole," professor Glover said.
"That is of major concern."
The findings, based on data produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, once again places Katherine high on the list of most underprivileged towns in Australia.
A high proportion of Indigenous people coupled with chronic underfunding and little attention from the government has lead to high rates of obesity, smoking, asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, psychological distress and premature death, Professor Glover said.
The rates of obesity in the Northern Territory are the highest they've ever been, with 65.2 per cent of adults aged 18 and over classified as obese and 35.1 per cent overweight.
Inner city Darwin has the lowest obesity rate, at 24.6 per cent, while Alice Springs sits at 30.6 per cent and Katherine remains the highest at 39.1 per cent.
While smoking rates have fallen across the nation, they've fallen at a slower rate among the most disadvantaged populations living in remote locations.
Nationally, the small towns of Bridgewater and Gagebrook in Hobart are estimated to have the highest smoking rate with 33.9 per cent of the adult population saying they smoke.
But Katherine's rate is still the worst in the NT, with almost one in three people (27.8 per cent) saying they smoke.
Katherine has the highest rate of diabetes in the Northern Territory (7.7 per cent), compared with inner Darwin sitting at (4.8 per cent).
Another key health indicator is psychological distress, with 17.3 per cent of those living in the most disadvantaged areas of the NT estimated to have high or very high psychological distress, compared with just 7.3 per cent among those in the most advantaged areas.
Katherine again rated worst for psychological distress, although estimates varied little in regional areas, with Katherine sitting at 13.7 per cent and Alice Springs at 13.5 per cent.
Worryingly, the data shows people living in the most disadvantaged areas of the Northern Territory were likely to have a "substantially higher rate" of heart, stroke and vascular disease, at 55.2 per cent, compared with 1.3 per cent for people living in the least disadvantaged areas of Australia.
Professor Glover puts the alarming rates down to a lack of employment, lower levels of education, inadequate housing and an "overriding level of cultural disadvantage for Indigenous people".
"These factors, especially a lack of housing, leads to people having fewer choices in terms of resources to get good food and live healthy lives," he said.
"It is a whole lot of these risk factors that are called structural factors, which can lead to individuals making risky decisions and unhealthy life choices.
"That often comes out of the stress they are under from financial, housing and transporting difficulties, exacerbated in [Katherine and the surrounding communities]."
Professor Glover said the public health figures disturbingly reveal, yet again, the poorer health outcomes for people in the community who are most disadvantaged.
He says it is a situation he continues to see year after year.
"These statistics tell a story of what you know is happening on the streets."
"Until somebody at a government level, a very senior level, takes this up as a major issue and addresses it through the levels of government, across departments, welfare, health, transport, we won't see major change in this area - we will continue to see figures like this."
Despite a lack of government action, education is the next big ticket item which could help close the health gap, professor Glover said, while adequate housing is just as important.
"As you go through life, housing is important. We all know that the whole proportion of government housing has declined over the years to levels that are way below what is necessary.
"The monetary benefit people get in terms of a private rental supplement because they can't get into public housing is not enough to cover increasing rents, so housing becomes a huge stress.
"All of these things, without adequate housing and being under financial stress, are going to lead to premature mortality."
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