BALLARAT will have a new weapon in its battle of the bulge.
The Ballarat Community and Workplace Health and Wellness Intervention Study aims to improve workplace and community health through fitness and incentive programs.
It follows news released Thursday that Ballarat has the highest rate of cardiovascular disease in Victoria, and the second highest in Australia.
The city is also the most physically inactive in the nation, and has the third highest smoking rates.
Lead by principal researchers, Paul Taylor from the University of San Francisco and Professor Grant Schofield from the Auckland University of Technology, the study is supported by YMCA activity programs, Ballarat City Council and local businesses.
Professor Taylor said the study was about the whole Ballarat community working together to improve its health.
“We know that one of the secrets to getting healthy is to do it with friends,” Professor Grant said.
“The study will use various tools to create a social community including step tracking with devices, games, badges and leader boards.
“It’s not about a ‘big stick’ – it’s more a ‘nudge’ in the right direction.”
The council’s chief executive officer Anthony Schinck said the number of Ballarat residents overweight or obese is growing daily.
“More than 36 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women are overweight which is above the state average,” Mr Schinck said.
“It’s time we all tightened our belt and worked towards healthier lifestyles. We hope this study will help Ballarat lead the way for Australia.”
The study is sponsored by Woolworths, whose employees will take part in the 12-week workplace intervention and who will also donate more than $10,000 in fruit and vegetables to Ballarat participants.
The YMCA will run free physical events and community exercise sessions and the study will also provide access to the Ritualize online tool to track healthy eating and activity.
To get involved in the study, go to ritualize.com/ballarat.