New Commission to help children and families avoid obesity and chronic disease

Published Sunday, 21 May, 2017 at 11:10 AM

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Cameron Dick

The Palaszczuk Government will establish a public health commission to tackle Queensland’s high obesity and chronic disease rates by supporting children, young people and families to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the Palaszczuk Government would this week introduce legislation to establish and operate the Healthy Futures Commission Queensland.

“The Healthy Futures Commission, which delivers another Palaszczuk Government election commitment, will be a new way of working that will contribute to reducing health inequity for Queensland children and families,” Mr Dick said.

“We know obesity continues to be too high in Queensland – one in four children, and two in three adults, are overweight or obese.

“These figures highlight the strong need to improve the health of Queenslanders by promoting healthy behaviours and the Commission will do just that.”

Mr Dick said the Commission would be funded $20M over three years to provide grants and partner with local business, community organisations, academic institutions and government agencies to encourage and support regular physical activity and healthy eating.

“At least 55 per cent of that funding will be provided in grants to enable the Commission to focus on targeted interventions and projects to enable children and families to make healthy choices,” Mr Dick said.

“Childhood is a crucial time for setting lifelong behaviours so the more we can do to empower and help young Queenslanders and families, the better chance we have at reducing obesity rates across the state.

“By investing in innovative ideas through local community partnerships, the Commission will create environments and opportunities that support the health and wellbeing of children and their families.”

Diabetes Queensland Chief Executive Officer Michelle Trute said the establishment of the new Commission offered the collaborative approach needed to tackle obesity and chronic diseases like diabetes.

“We’re eager to partner with the Government in this new preventative health commission. It will take all of our shared knowledge, expertise and resources to bring about healthier results,” Ms Trute said.

“Lack of exercise, overweight and obesity are the biggest health challenges facing Queenslanders this century, and they’re not easy or simple problems to solve.

“We need to go hard with all of our talents if we’re to make a difference in this generation. That’s our goal, and we can do it if people eat fresh and exercise for 30 minutes a day.

“It’s much easier to avoid type 2 diabetes than live with it. This initiative will give us all a fighting chance.”

The Heart Foundation CEO Stephen Vines said he welcomed the Commission and any action that would make Queensland communities healthier, more liveable places.

“People need supportive communities so that the healthier choice is the easiest choice,” he said.

“That means we need to support people to be more physically active every day. Infrastructure that improves access to public transport, walking and cycling, creates opportunities for people to move more and sit less.

“Physical activity can help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases and mental illness.

“A healthy economic future for Queensland will be shaped by the health and wellbeing of the population.

“The Heart Foundation has long advocated for healthier places and we support the Queensland Government’s endeavours to improve where we live.”

Urban Indigenous Health Institute CEO Mr Adrian Carson said the Commission’s focus of child and families, and commitment to reducing health inequity, is very positive.

“The Urban Indigenous Health Institute is pleased to see the focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and looks forward to working with the Government to Close the Gap in Queensland,” he said.

The Commission will comprise a six-member board, a Chief Executive Officer and up to 15 staff, who will address two key outcomes from the Queensland Health Advancing Health 2026 plan:

  • Reduce childhood obesity by 10 per cent; and
  • Increase levels of physical activity for health benefit by 20 per cent.

Fast facts

There are still 259,000 children and 2.3 million adults in Queensland who are overweight or obese. This is 26 per cent of children and 64 per cent of adults.

There are also large differentials in the unhealthy behaviours that lead to diseases and premature death across the Queensland population:

  • Obesity rates are 76 per cent higher in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas of Queensland compared to advantaged areas.
  • Compared to major cities, obesity rates are 36 per cent higher in remote and very remotes areas of Queensland.
  • Obesity rates are 39 per cent higher among Indigenous Queenslanders than non-Indigenous.

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