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Geelong recognised for obesity prevention

Geelong recognised for obesity prevention
July 17, 2012

2012 has seen the city of Geelong gain considerable recognition for its anti-obesity programs.

The city is one of 14 municipalities to be included in the joint Federal and Victorian Government Prevention Community Model - a model that involves more than 1.3 million people, 520 schools and 938 early childhood services and 1,500 businesses in an effort to turn around unhealthy lifestyles.

The city's sharing in $100 million of Federal and State funding has been welcomed by Deakin University Professor of Health & Social Development and Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention Boyd Swinburn who told local media "it represents a substantial amount and really boosts Geelong's efforts."

Professor Swinburn leads a research program in the area of obesity prevention, especially in childhood and adolescence, and oversees two local community-based obesity prevention projects, the Romp and Chomp program targeted at the one to five age group and It's Your Move program aimed at 12 to 18 year olds.

Professor Swinburn adds "Geelong is one of the biggest areas which adds to the complexity, but has a long tradition of these kinds of programs.

"This funding builds on Geelong's track record of being a leader in this area."

Results from existing programs in Geelong show that overweight and obesity can be reduced in pre-schoolers, children and adolescents within three years using a community capacity building approach. The interventions also reduce inequalities and are safe.

Findings from these community-based projects have been translated into several state programs as well as a National Health and Medical Research Council funded project to test the sustainability of the original intervention.

Detailed demographic and health data as derived from the Victorian Population Health Survey is now being used to tailor programs to address obesity and chronic disease prevention in each community and to determine Geelong's key health challenges.

Victorian Minister for Health and Ageing David Davis adds that "there will be a range of programs to ensure healthy choices are easy for individuals, families and communities, and each of the communities will have a vital role in determining what best suits their local needs.

"There will be a focus on local programs specifically designed to improve children's health and wellbeing.

"Programs will also target adults who have tapered off their health and fitness, and encourage them to take the steps needed to restore their lifestyle and wellbeing."

The WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention also led to the establishment of the Collaboration of Community-based Obesity Prevention Sites (CO-OPS Collaboration), which aims to support community-based obesity prevention initiatives through a collaborative approach to promoting best practice, knowledge translation and by providing networking opportunities, support and advice.

In addition to Geelong, the areas of Ararat, Dandenong, Hume, Knox, Latrobe, Mildura, Pyrenees, Whittlesea, Wodonga, Wyndham, Cardinia, Central Goldfields and Bendigo were also selected to participate in the program.

More information about the Prevention Community Model can be found on the Victorian Department of Health website at


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