South-west medicos welcome obesity campaign

HEALTH professionals have welcomed a new statewide campaign on the dangers of being overweight or obese as south-west Victoria struggles with high cholesterol rates.

The Live Lighter campaign was launched this week by state Health Minister David Davis, with broadcast and print advertisements depicting the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle.

The television advertisements feature an overweight man examining his kitchen refrigerator before cutting to computer graphics of internal organs, in a similar style to the successful Quit Victoria campaign.

South West Primary Care Partnership health promotion officer Lynda Smith said it was important to reinforce the twin messages of increased exercise and healthy eating.

“I suppose it is a case of the more reminders people receive, the better,” Ms Smith said.

“There’s been a view over the past few years that people in their teens and twenties may be the first generation to die earlier than their parents’ generation, which is a really worrying trend.”

Ms Smith said one of the aims of the government campaign was shifting widespread perceptions over the impact of sedentary lifestyles on individual health.

“Changing the community mind-set when it comes to exercise and nutrition won’t happen overnight,” she said. 

“Attitudes towards cigarette smoking took 70 years to shift completely.

“Cigarette advertising was still around 20 or 30 years ago and now it is unacceptable.”

Print advertisements depicting “grabbable guts” and “toxic fat” have featured in most of Victoria’s daily newspapers during the past few days, including The Standard.

Mr Davis said similar government campaigns have had “profound impacts on smoking rates, on road safety and on our efforts to reduce the toll of skin cancer”.

“The Live Lighter campaign offers a powerful visual representation of what’s happening inside the body of those who are overweight or obese and reminds us all of how dangerous overweight and obesity is,” he said.

Opposition health spokesman Gavin Jennings said the state government’s attitude to healthy eating was hypocritical after it backed moves by American fast food chain McDonald’s to open more stores throughout Victoria.

“Nothing shows the confounded nature of Denis Napthine and his government when one day he is launching an anti-obesity campaign, and the next he is opening more fast food outlets,” Mr Jennings said.

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