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MEDIA RELEASE - Portland Becomes World Leader in Tackling Obesity

30 November 2017

Portland is proudly now one of a handful of places in the world that is reversing the levels of overweight and obesity in children.

Since 2014 as part of the SEA Change Portland approach, community members have made more than 250 changes in ensuring the healthy choice is easier.

These improvements have paid off, with children within Portland and district primary schools recording a drop in rates of overweight and obesity.

Given these early signs of success, SEA Change Portland is now calling more people from within the community to become involved and support the work by simply joining the SEA Change community via their website www.seachangeportland.com.au.

Glenelg Shire Council Mayor Cr Anita Rank along with fellow contributors encourages the community to become members of SEA Change Portland.

“If the whole community get behinds SEA Change while we have this momentum, proven by these positive progress results, we can make a huge difference to the lives of everyone in our community,” Cr Rank said.

Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) at Deakin University has recently completed analysing the data that was collected from measuring primary school children across the six local government areas in the Great South Coast region in term two earlier this school year.

Cr Rank said the same dataset was collected in 2015 and 2016 in Portland and for the first time GLOBE has been able to give insights into whether all the actions taking place under SEA Change Portland have had an overall impact so far.

“This positive result is strengthened further by surveyed improvements in the amount of water consumed, fruit and vegetables eaten and children using active transport options such as walking and riding to and from school.

“The amount of sugary drinks being consumed by children has also reduced. These findings were shared with current SEA Change community members at several events and will also be presented at community breakfast hosted at Council tomorrow morning.

“SEA Change Portland is a relatively new way of addressing the obesity epidemic and about empowering the community to make changes to the environment and the way we do things across the whole of Portland ensuring the healthy choice is the easy choice,” she said.

Southern Grampians Glenelg Primary Care Partnership executive officer Janette Lowe said Portland was brave and bold in taking on such an innovative way of addressing the high obesity problem in Portland.

“It is very exciting to achieve such positive progress results, providing confidence and reward for the community’s hard work so far,” Mrs Lowe said.

“The Southern Grampians community who followed Portland’s lead a year later has also recorded similar positive results, confirming that the approach is working and making a real difference to the health of our children. The whole approach is innovative, simple and successful and both communities should be so proud of what they are achieving on the world stage.”

GLOBE director Professor Steven Allender said Portland joins a very small list of places within the world that had been able to measure a reduction in obesity and overweight levels in children over this short period of time.

“It is also exciting that Portland is getting the data whilst the work is continuing. Too often changes are measured and we find out too late when the effort has stopped, and we know typically if you stop the effort rates of overweight and obesity revert back to where they were. You have to maintain the effort and expand it to ensure that the great gains you have made, multiply,” Professor Allender said.

Cr Rank said this data shows the power the community has in improving the lives of our local kids and protecting them from the obesity epidemic.

“We are now heading in the right direction but there is still a way to go and we don’t want to get complacent,” Cr Rank said.

“Let’s grow our efforts and make Portland one of the healthiest places to live.”

For further information and to support or take action, join the SEA Change community via their website at www.seachangeportland.com.au.


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