Regional summit on building healthy communities

Regional summit on building healthy communities
The first ever Northern Rivers Healthy Communities Summit was held in Ballina this week, promoting working together to create environments that encourage healthy eating and active living.

Around 90 people from across government and non-government agencies, councils, education, health services, sport and fitness, community services and farmers’ markets attended the summit, getting behind a whole-of-community approach to healthy and active living.

The summit was organised by the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) Health Promotion Unit as part of a broader Healthy Communities project to tackle growing rates of overweight and obesity.

Since 1985, the proportion of Australian children who are overweight has doubled and the prevalence of obesity trebled. In NSW, child overweight and obesity has been relatively stable over the last ten years, but at 21% is still a cause for concern.

NNSWLHD Health Promotion Manager Jillian Adams said it is alarming that two thirds of Australian adults are now overweight or obese.

“For the first time in the modern era, our children may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

“The rise in childhood and adult obesity is causing unprecedented levels of heart disease, diabetes, and liver disease and increased risk of stroke, respiratory disease and cancer,” Ms Adams said.

In 2018/19 NSW Health is investing $38 million to tackle obesity, $25 million of which has been allocated specifically to fight childhood obesity, through the Healthy Eating Active Living Strategy, with targeted programs, public education and health professionals’ advice to reduce childhood overweight.

Ms Adams said that tackling this issue goes beyond individual willpower.

“There are many social and environmental factors causing these increasing rates of overweight, including our sedentary lifestyles- our car-based, screen-based, fast-food world.

“We need to change the direction we’re headed, but the Health sector can’t do this alone, so we are calling for a whole of community approach.”

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