What we need to do now

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					10 ‘Go for your life’ Victoria - leading the way to a healthy and active community

What we need to do now
A coordinated, collaborative and multi-sectoral approach is needed to reduce the rate of obesity in
Victoria and raise awareness about the importance of healthy lifestyles.
Even with recent investment and leadership from                                      •   Increased levels of active play in school and
government – and the efforts of non-government                                           preschool settings
organisations and industry – obesity continues to be                                 •   Building community capacity through activities such
a worsening problem. Governments cannot tackle
                                                                                         as safe transport programs that encourage walking
issues relating to poor nutrition and physical inactivity
                                                                                         and cycling to school
alone. Overweight and obesity are complex problems
                                                                                     •   Increased access to nutritious food, including access
that are influenced by a range of social, economic,
environmental and behavioural factors. Addressing                                        to fruit in childcare and school facilities
these factors requires a coordinated and collaborative                               •   Family or group focussed primary care treatment
approach that involves all levels of government,                                         programs for overweight and obese children.
non-government organisations, businesses,
                                                                                     While leisure time and rates of physical activity have
communities and individuals.
                                                                                     remained relatively unchanged, or declined slightly,
The World Health Organisation (WHO) statement on                                     over the past two decades, other forms of expending
obesity noted that a multi-sectoral approach is needed                               energy have declined. For example, advances in
to identify and change the main environmental factors                                technology require less energy expenditure for
that lead to obesity and to successfully prevent and                                 domestic and occupational activities and there is
reduce the rate of obesity in societies.15 A multi-sectoral                          a greater use of motorised and more sedentary
approach focuses prevention and control strategies on                                modes of transport. Even relatively small, consistent
raising awareness among relevant decision-makers and                                 declines of energy expenditure and increases in
health professionals, as well as the general public. This                            energy intake over a number of years will result in
leads to planning and implementing initiatives and                                   population weight gain.
activities that will help to create environments more
                                                                                     There is strengthening evidence around the benefits
favourable for healthier diets and lifestyles.16
                                                                                     of physical activity and healthy nutrition for the
With physical and social environments playing a key role                             community as a whole. The National Public Health
in an individual’s health, a successful approach to                                  Partnership update on evidence for physical activity
reducing overweight and obesity must promote                                         and health, Getting Australia Active II19 quotes a recent
environmental and policy changes alongside strategies                                Danish study that showed cycling to work reduces
that encourage people to change their behaviour.17 The                               mortality risk, providing clear and positive evidence
National Public Health Partnership scoping study and                                 regarding active commuting. The update also notes
review of child health literature undertaken in 200318                               that there are now large scale prevention trials in
found that there are a variety of diverse interventions                              China, Finland and the United States. These trials have
that help to prevent overweight and obesity in children                              demonstrated that a combination of modest weight
and promote a healthier lifestyle, including:                                        loss, diet and meeting moderate physical activity
•   Promotion of breastfeeding, which has health                                     recommendations can lead to a 50% to 60%
    benefits in protecting against obesity for both                                  reduction in the risk of developing diabetes among
    mother and child                                                                 those already at high risk.

•   Reduced exposure to levels of food advertising
    on television
                                                                 ‘Go for your life’ Victoria - leading the way to a healthy and active community 11

Guiding principles
Reflecting Victoria’s experience to date – and in consultation with key stakeholders – the
Government has developed guiding principles for the ‘Go for your life’ Strategic Plan 2006-2010.
1. We recognise the complexity of the issues we                   4. We are committed to building on existing expertise
are facing.                                                       and using evidence to guide our actions.
•   We need strategies that change social norms and               •   A strong evidence base will help us to direct our
    community and environmental structures to support                 activities and investments where they will have
    individuals and families to change their behaviours               maximum effect. We are committed to seeking out
•                                                                     and developing the evidence.
    Changing peoples’ behaviour around nutrition and
    activity is complex and requires a sustained effort
                                                                  5. We are working towards lifelong behaviour change.
    over a long period
                                                                  •   We will look to interventions across the life span but
•   We must emphasise approaches that will prevent the                have a particular concern with establishing healthy
    problem, while at the same time assisting those who               eating behaviours and a commitment to regular
    already suffer the effects of poor nutrition and lack of          physical activity in children as a foundation for long
    physical activity, including overweight, obesity and              term wellbeing.
    chronic diseases such as diabetes.
                                                                  •   We know that investment in healthy eating and
2. We believe that a whole of community effort                        physical activity makes great economic sense.
is required.                                                      •   Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity issues are
•   Changing the health of Victorians requires all of us to           associated with morbid obesity and a range of chronic
    make an effort, engaging the whole community,                     diseases including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
    including government, non-government organisations,               Without action, a continuation of current trends will
    local government, professional and peak bodies and                result in significant costs for government, the
    industry                                                          workforce, the community and individuals.
•   We need to integrate Victorian efforts with national
    and international knowledge and activities
•   We need to leverage other initiatives and investments
    – for example, the Australian Better Health Initiative and
    other Council of Australian Governments activities.

3. We know that Victorians bear the impact of poor
nutrition and lack of physical activity in different
ways in different communities.
•   Change must be promoted in ways that are positive
    and do not stigmatise or blame individuals
•   Unhealthy weight occurs more frequently in low
    socio-economic groups and disadvantaged
    communities. Indigenous communities face particular
    issues in relation to nutrition and chronic disease. We
    are committed to addressing these disadvantages
    through targeting of programs.
12 ‘Go for your life’ Victoria - leading the way to a healthy and active community

Areas of focus
Alongside the guiding principles, future ‘Go for your life’ activities will be underpinned by greater
coordination and collaboration, an evidence-based approach, addressing health inequality impacts and
a focus on structural changes.

Coordination and collaboration                                                       Actions based on evidence
‘Go for your life’ is founded on a partnership approach                              We know that eating well and being physically active
in which Ministers, Government departments, local                                    have health and wellbeing benefits, but limited
government, non-government organisations, industry                                   research exists about what we need to do to change
and the Victorian community work together and                                        current eating and activity behaviours. To guide the
leverage off each other’s efforts. To improve                                        work of the Strategic Plan into the future and to
collaboration and dialogue about the ‘Go for your life’                              develop effective programs that can lead to changes in
Strategic Plan across government, non-government                                     eating and activity, we will give high priority to
and industry sectors, we will:                                                       research and we will base our actions – and the
1. Establish a Partnership Group with membership                                     evolution of the Strategic Plan – on the evidence that
   from a range of sectors. This group will work in                                  we accrue. We will develop measurable and
   collaboration with the cross government ‘Go for                                   informative performance indicators to enable the
   your life’ Leadership Group to provide advice to the                              evaluation of ‘Go for your life’ activities. These
   Ministers’ Forum on strategic directions, gaps and                                progress and outcome measures will be consistent
   priorities, to inform policy and investment decisions.                            with measures used for other relevant initiatives, such
   The Partnership Group will include other levels of                                as the National Reform Agenda.
   government, non-government organisations and
   representatives from the food, fitness, retail and                                Addressing the health inequality
   advertising sectors.                                                              impacts
2. Invite ongoing stakeholder and consumer input into                                Across the Victorian population, health is experienced
   the development, implementation and review of the                                 differently by different groups, with significant health
   ‘Go for your life’ Strategic Plan.                                                inequalities that cannot be accounted for by individual
To share expertise and work together across                                          make-up or behaviours. Good health tends to reflect
government, we will:                                                                 a gradient of advantage: the higher your position on
                                                                                     the socioeconomic gradient, the better your health is
1. Develop relationships, including through joint
                                                                                     likely to be. The Strategic Plan provides an opportunity
   initiatives, with a wide range of departments to
                                                                                     to complement Victorian Government policy by
   incorporate portfolios, such as planning, transport
   and urban design.                                                                 ensuring that efforts in promoting healthy eating and
                                                                                     physical activity take into consideration the relevant
2. Improve whole-of-government and inter-agency                                      factors that contribute to health inequalities in the
   links, so that all relevant policies and programs                                 Victorian community.
   reflect best practice in the promotion of healthy
   eating and physical activity.
3. Develop strong links with national initiatives,
   including the Australian Better Health Initiative and
   National Reform Agenda.
                                                         ‘Go for your life’ Victoria - leading the way to a healthy and active community 13

Focus on structural and                                   physical environment (such as the availability of bike
environmental changes                                     paths and walking tracks), access to sport and
                                                          recreation facilities, the costs associated with food
The built, natural, social and economic environments      and activity options, and a myriad of other
have a significant effect on the way people live and      environmental influences. The Strategic Plan will
behave. The level of physical activity and the eating     include a focus on supporting changes to these
habits of Victorians are influenced by legislation and    environments that will promote behavioural change.
regulation, access to the food supply, the surrounding
14 ‘Go for your life’ Victoria - leading the way to a healthy and active community

The way forward 2006 - 2010
The ‘Go for your life’ Strategic Plan includes healthy eating and physical activity initiatives that feature
population approaches and a community focus.
Through actions undertaken as part of the Strategic                                  The Strategic Plan recognises that considerable
Plan, we want:                                                                       diversity exists within each population group and that
•                                                                                    people from higher risk groups are also members of
    All Victorians to have the capacity (knowledge,
                                                                                     other age-based population groups. Interventions within
    confidence, skills and resources) to make healthy and
                                                                                     population groups need to recognise diversity and
    active choices that promote their lifelong health
                                                                                     differences in risk, behaviours and responses.
•   People working in the main settings for each
                                                                                     Actions need to be tailored to a range of settings,
    population group to have the capacity (knowledge,
    confidence, skills and resources) to promote healthy
    eating and physical activity in culturally and age                               •   Home and residential settings, including private
    appropriate ways                                                                     households and other settings
•   The social, economic, built and natural environments                             •   Early childhood settings, including child care services
    in which Victorians live, work and play to support the                               and kindergartens
    healthy choices of members of all population groups                              •   Educational settings, including schools and tertiary
•   Government policies, plans and programs to be                                        education institutions
    aligned within government and with other sectors to                              •   Workplaces, where people are in paid or voluntary
    ensure consistent messages and support for the
    adoption of healthy and active lifestyles
                                                                                     •   Neighbourhoods and communities such as parks,
•   A well researched evidence base that will support the
                                                                                         forests and open spaces, sport and recreation clubs
    development of a better understanding of the triggers
                                                                                         and facilities, neighbourhood houses, senior citizens’
    to eating and physical activity patterns and the
                                                                                         clubs, day centres for people with a disability, and
    barriers to changing behaviours, and help to develop
                                                                                         other community and neighbourhood services
    targeted interventions that effectively promote healthy
                                                                                     •   Primary care settings, such as community health
    eating and physical activity.
                                                                                         centres, maternal and child health centres, and
The Strategic Plan identifies five population groupings:
                                                                                         general practices.
•   Children in the early years, aged 0 to 5 years, and
                                                                                     The Strategic Plan also identifies aspects of the broader
    their families
                                                                                     environment that will need to change to support healthy
•   Young people, aged 5 to 18 years, and their families                             and active behaviours:
•   Adults                                                                           •   Policy and planning at the local level
•   Senior Victorians, aged 55 years and over                                        •   Food supply
•   High risk population groups that are known to be at                              •   Media, advertising and communications
    a greater risk of poor nutrition and physical activity,                          •   Regulation, legislation and fiscal policy
    including men, people living on low incomes, people
                                                                                     •   Research, monitoring and evaluation.
    living with a disability, people from diverse cultural
    and linguistic backgrounds and indigenous Victorians.
                                         ‘Go for your life’ Victoria - leading the way to a healthy and active community 15

Figure 1: ‘Go for your life’ framework

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