A PIONEERING Prevention Lab is tackling the global obesity crisis from the grassroots up across the Central Highlands.
Community leaders have joined forces in the Central Highlands Regional Partnership bid to become Australia’s healthiest region.
The Central Highlands is one of the most overweight and obese regions in Victoria. A leaders forum Prevention Lab has begun designing an action plan how to dramatically turn this around with solutions tailored to the region’s well-being needs.
University of Melbourne public health professor and global health champion Rob Moodie applauds the ground-breaking approach.
Professor Moodie said communities had to take action rather than wait for government policy or big funding to make the play – like a sugary drinks tax. He said little shifts all helped to create a cultural change.
“I really think the solutions have to be local, they have to be driven from here,” Professor Moodie said. “(Solutions) have to be driven collectively. If we want to do anything about it, we have to do it together...We follow what others do and if more and more of us are doing it then we change the whole nature of local communities to be much more active and healthier.”
Professor Moodie said a healthier outlook was good for business: productivity goes up, absenteeism goes down and it was good for the bottom line to heave healthier, more productive workers. He urged bosses, community clubs and healthcare workers to make small changes and model best behaviour.
Health Futures Australia’s Shelley Bowen will lead the Prevention Lab the next six months in designing a solution and how to scale this up.
Dr Bowen said energy was high in a Central Highlands Regional Partnership breakfast on Thursday, but the key was nudging people to take action and transforming initiatives already in place.
“This is actually about a change of heart,” Dr Bowen said. “Obesity is huge in our community. It’s about saying, I want to do something about it and I can do something about it and we need collective leadership to keep moving this forward.”
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