New Campaign to Tackle Portland Obesity

Wednesday, 2 July 2014
A major new community campaign is being launched to tackle Portland’s escalating obesity problem.

`Portland SEA Change’ (Sustainable Eating and Activity Change) aims to bring together the community to find the best way to change the eating and exercise habits of local people.

With statistics showing 59 per cent of Glenelg Shire residents are overweight or obese; more than 10 points above the state average - the campaign targeting children aged up to 11 years is considered critically important to the future health of the region.

The Glenelg Shire Community Health Profile, based on figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, shows the female overweight and obesity rate is 49 per cent but a staggering 71 per cent of men are overweight or obese.

The figures also show 49.6 per cent of shire residents don't meet guidelines for eating fruit and vegetables and 31.6 per cent fail to meet the physical activity guidelines.

The campaign will kick off with community workshops on July 17 and 29. The first workshop at the Portland Golf Club will bring together key organisations such schools, food providers, health services and sporting clubs to discuss what is being done well in the community and what can be done better to address the problem. Parents or other interested people can also attend.

The second workshop will seek to develop an action plan to address the problem.

Portland District Health will work with local partners to engage the community to improve eating habits and increase exercise.

Director of Primary and Community Health Fiona Heenan said the Department of Health had funded the health promotion campaign and PDH would work in collaboration with Southern Grampians Glenelg Primary Care Partnership, Glenelg Shire Council and Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Services.

The campaign will address a serious problem and result in a healthier local community, Ms Heenan said.

All the partner organisations are leading from the front by adopting the Healthy Achievement; Workplace Program promoting healthy eating and lifestyles.

PDH Health Promotion Officer Phoebe Nagorcka-Smith said evidence from around the world showed that anti-obesity campaigns targeted towards children had the best impact.

"The ABS has found that levels of overweight and obesity amongst a group of people increases from childhood to adulthood. That’s why we are targeting children; it will have an impact on how many people are overweight and suffering from health issues such as heart disease, cancer and type 2diabetes when they are adults.

The campaign will start in Portland but could be rolled out across other communities at a later date.

Portland is a strong community and we hope everyone feels they have a role to play in creating a healthier community, Ms Nagorcka-Smith said.

Our goals are to reduce obesity rates and improve other health indicators.

We would like see more people eating fruit and vegies and being more active, but it's also about linking the community to work towards a common goal.

The workshops will use an Analysis Grid for Environments Linked to Obesity (ANGELO) system developed by Deakin University to prioritise potential actions and develop a draft plan to respond to identified local needs. The system looks at the elements known to contribute to obesity in the community and gives stakeholders an opportunity to contribute to the planning process in tackling those issues.

People wishing to take part in the campaign can contact Phoebe Nagorcka-Smith 5522 1215 or Lindy Stuchbery 5522 1197 in the health promotion department at Portland District Health.

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