STATISTICS have revealed more than half of the residents in the Glenelg Shire are overweight or obese.
To combat this staggering figure a new healthy eating and exercise campaign is being launched in Portland.
Named Portland SEA Change (Sustainable Eating and Activity Change), the community campaign aims to tackle the escalating obesity problem.
The program will bring the community together to find the best way to change the eating and exercise habits of local people.
It will target children aged up to 11 years and is considered critically important to the future health of the region.
Based on the Glenelg Shire Community Health Profile, with figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 59 per cent of Glenelg Shire residents are overweight or obese.
According to the figures, the female overweight and obesity rate is 49 per cent while an alarming 71 per cent of men are overweight or obese.
Community workshops on July 17 and 29 will kick off the campaign with the first workshop to be held at the Portland Golf Club.
Key organisations such as schools, food providers, health services and sporting clubs will discuss what is being done well in the community and what can be done better to address the problem.
Parents or other interested people are invited to attend and the second workshop aims to develop an action plan to address the problem.
Portland District Health health promotion officer Phoebe Nagorcka-Smith said evidence from around the world showed that anti-obesity campaigns targeted towards children had the best impact.
“The ABS has found that levels of overweight and obesity among a group of people increases from childhood to adulthood,” she said.
“That’s why we are targeting children. It will have an impact on how many people are overweight and suffering from health issues such as heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes when they are adults.
“Portland is a strong community and we hope everyone feels they have a role to play in creating a healthier community,” Ms Nagorcka-Smith said.
“Our goals are to reduce obesity rates and improve other health indicators.
“We would like to see more people eating fruit and vegies and being more active, but it’s also about linking the community to work towards a common goal.”
People wishing to take part can contact Phoebe Nagorcka-Smith 5522 1215 or Lindy Stuchbery 5522 1197.