Portland program reverses trend of childhood obesity and being overweight

Positive change: Glenelg Shire mayor Anita Rank.
Positive change: Glenelg Shire mayor Anita Rank.

Portland has joined a handful of places around the world that is reversing the levels of childhood obesity and being overweight.

Under the SEA Change Portland approach, the community has made more than 250 changes during the past three years to ensure making a healthy choice was easier.

The improvements have paid off with the district’s primary schoolchildren recording a drop in rates of obesity or being overweight.

Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) analysed data from six local government areas in the Great South Coast region and found that in Portland there had been improvements in the amount of water consumed, fruit and vegetables eaten and the number of children walking or riding to school. The amount of sugary drinks being consumed had also fallen.

Southern Grampians Glenelg Primary Care Partnership executive officer Janette Lowe said Portland was brave and bold in taking on such an innovative way of addressing the high obesity problem in Portland. 

“The Southern Grampians community, who followed Portland’s lead a year later, has also recorded similar positive results, confirming that the approach is working and making a real difference to the health of our children,” she said.

GLOBE director Professor Steven Allender said Portland joined a very small list of places in the world that had been able to measure a reduction in obesity and overweight levels in children over a short period of time.

Glenelg Shire Council mayor Anita Rank said the data showed the power the community had in improving the lives of children and protecting them from the obesity epidemic. To join the campaign visit www.seachangeportland.com.au