It is now being recognised that the way we design our environment is having a huge impact on human health and wellbeing.
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 at 21 per cent over the last ten years – yet this is still cause for concern said Jillian Adams, Northern NSW Local Health District’s (NNSWLHD) health promotion manager.
‘For the first time in the modern era, our children may have a shorter life expectancy than their parents,’ she said.
‘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.’
Tackling obesity as a community
Recognising both the importance of our environment and the role of community on the impact of peoples choices around health eating and activities NNSWLHD held the first ever Northern Rivers Healthy Communities Summit held in Ballina yesterday.
‘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,’ said Ms Adams.
‘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.’
More than 80 people from across government and non-government agencies, councils, education, health services, sport and fitness, community services and farmers’ markets attended the summit in Ballina.
‘The Summit was the first stage of the Northern Rivers Healthy Communities Project, to support collaborative programs across community sectors, making it easier for all of us to make healthy choices,’ said Ms Adams.