WHEN it comes to the battle of the bulge, Ballarat wants to beat it.
More than 500 people turned out to Ballarat's Positive Change Project launch on Saturday which aims to improve the city's health through a 12-week challenge.
The initiative comes at a timely manner after news Ballarat has the highest rate of cardiovascular disease in Victoria, and the second highest in Australia.
Project participant Nick Healey said it was a family history of heart problems that motivated him to participate.
"My uncle died of a heart problem and many of my other family members have heart problems. I don't want to end up like that, but at this stage all the signs are pointing that way," he said.
The 21-year-old said it had been recurring bad habits that had trumped all previous attempts at losing and keeping off the weight.
"It's going to be hard to break out of the habits of not cooking, and eating takeaway and sugar."
With hopes to lose a whopping 20 kilograms, Mr Healey said he was positive the support from co-workers and friends, combined with a public online progress report, would help him reach his goals of sky diving.
A nationwide first, the study will track and compare lifestyle changes and motivation aspects and how they can help in weight loss.
Ballarat City Council chief executive officer Anthony Schinck said the program allowed people to connect with others while improving their health, including local businesses who have also jumped on board.
"The program is not a traditional program, it's about behavioural change and connecting with others," he said.
"It will be a platform for people to show recipes, exercise routines and tips and advice.
"It's not designed to replace any other great initiative in Ballarat, but to encourage them to come together."