Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we doing this?

Poor diet, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity all significantly contribute to the growing chronic disease burden. Carrying excess weight places individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers.

Over the past two decades, a large proportion of the population has shifted from the healthy weight group to the overweight group, and even more from the overweight group to the obese group.

Even a small degree of weight loss can bring health benefits such as lowered cardiovascular risk. Multiplied across the ACT population, these small effects can have a large impact on the burden of disease in the community and the overall cost of providing health services.

Preventing illness from excess weight does require individual action and primary healthcare providers have a key role to play in assisting overweight and obese people to manage their health risks. However, to achieve change across the community, government can provide opportunities and incentives for physical activity or improved diet and make individual action easier.

Why are we focusing on the six themes?

When people think of health, images of hospitals and community health centres often spring to mind. However, our health is shaped by the way we live our daily lives in our neighbourhoods, schools and workplaces. As a result, many of the factors that influence what we eat or how active we are – for example how accessible and attractive footpaths and cycle paths are, or the availability of healthy food in schools and the community – lie outside of the traditional reach of the health sector.

The ACT Government has identified six areas which target the many factors contributing to obesity and overweight, with a broad goal of increasing physical activity and improving both within the government and across the ACT.

These actions follow an extensive process carried out by a whole-of government taskforce, setup to make sure all arms of government play a part in responding to this government priority in collaboration with key non-government and academic organisations. As a result of this approach the actions have strong support throughout government and will be implemented across traditional agency boundaries.

What role does the community, private sector and non-government organisations play?

The ACT Government has a strong network of partners in prevention who are all playing a part in combating rising levels of overweight and obesity. These range from professional bodies – including non- government organisations, the ACT Medicare Local and research partners at the ANU and University of Canberra – to amateur organisations, clubs, businesses, industries and individuals who are passionate about making Canberra a healthier, more active place to live.

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