SPORT and recreation facilities in Victoria are leading the way in which the government has been tackling the obesity epidemic with healthier foods.
Health experts have called for a unified national approach to the issue with the latest food policy index from Deakin University reporting variations across governments hindering overall efforts to improve Australians' health.
This follows a study released by Collective for Action on Obesity finding the national obesity rate has doubled in the past decade.
Almost one in three Australian adults are now deemed obese with Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania experiencing a rise in overweight adults last year.
Central Highlands has long weight in as one of the nation's heaviest regions.
A community prevention lab has been designing tailored methods the past year to change this.
There are projects separate to the lab already working to create a shift in culture.
When it comes to sport and recreation focuses on healthier foods in the region, YMCA has been scaling back its sugary drinks and treats for three summers now at its pools in Avoca, Landsborough and Beaufort.
Water has been promoted as the drink of choice and displayed at eye level. Limited "amber" drinks with moderate sugars, like fruit juice, were out of sight to children. This past summer, high-sugar drinks were not sold.
Snacks are following a similar phase-out.
Programs to engage people to move more have also been a particular focus in the wider Ballarat region.
Sports Central has partnered with AFL club Western Bulldogs in delivering the club's holistic health programs Sons of the West and Daughters of the West.
Both programs have consistently strong participation in what Sports Central executive officer Michael Flynn worked well in the region because each tapped into local organisations and support.
Similarly in Sports Central's work with VicHealth to roll out This Girl Can projects, encouraging females to try different or modified physical activities in a bid to break down barriers, like fear of judgement.
"A big focus on our programs is not only being active but the social connections, people feeling more comfortable," Mr Flynn said.
"We've conducted a lot of consultation with women across the regional sports programs and they're excited to try new and different programs...modified programs fit their lifestyle, availability and all activity levels."
Mr Flynn said a good example of this was the opportunity, in partnership with VicHealth and Surfing Victoria to offer coasting lessons (stand-up paddleboarding) on Lake Wendouree. This program is set to stretch into Daylesford and Creswick in what Mr Flynn said helped improve access and engagement for women living in smaller communities about the region.
Meanwhile, Council of Australian Governments last year agreed to develop a national obesity strategy. Obesity Policy Coalition executive manager Jane Martin said effective strategies needed to be put in place across Australia, particularly to help states that were falling behind.
Ms Martin said the biggest gap between states and territories was in marketing of junk food to children and it was time all levels of government take steps to protect children from such a relentless push.
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