Healthy Weight Strategy Project

What is the problem?

Over recent decades, the rates of overweight and obesity have risen dramatically in Australia. The most recent data from 2014 to 2015 estimates that 63.4% of Australian adults and 27.6% of children are now overweight or obese. This translates to 1 in 10 more adults with obesity today than in 1995. Furthermore, a consistently higher prevalence of overweight and obesity is measured in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and children in comparison to their non-Indigenous peers.

Being overweight or obese increases one’s risk of developing a range of chronic illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis and cancers of the breast, prostate, liver and colon, among others. Moreover, the increased risk is proportionate to Body Mass Index (BMI), i.e. the higher the BMI, the greater the chance is of developing associated co-morbidities. For children with obesity, there is an increased risk of breathing difficulties, fractures, hypertension, early signs of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and psychological effects. Childhood obesity is also closely associated with obesity, disability and premature death in adulthood. 

Fortunately, in addition to innovative and robust research, there are numerous programs and services that play a valuable role in obesity prevention and treatment within the NSWRHP area.

About the research translation program

The Healthy Weight Strategy Project is a local initiative of NSWRHP and has been funded by HMRI through the NSW Ministry of Health Medical Research Support Program. The Healthy Weight Strategy Project has been commissioned in recognition that there are significant, often collaborative, healthy weight initiatives across the NSWRHP organisations, and there is value in collating and analysing information about them to assist the partners in future planning and decision-making. 

The project will seek to gain an understanding of the rates of overweight and obesity in the NSWRHP geographical area and the programs, research projects and services available to the population. The project will also consider the economic impacts of obesity on health service utilisation.

An analytical framework will then be developed and applied to the scoping and research findings to identify: (1) Opportunities for collaboration amongst partners; (2) Gaps that may benefit from further investment, and (3) Where additional research could guide future obesity prevention and treatment activity in the NSWRHP area.   

What will be the impact?

A greater awareness of the obesity prevention and treatment activities occurring within the NSWRHP area. It is expected that the project will present opportunities for significant collaboration by recognising overlaps in programs and services, as well as identifying opportunities for investment and research. Thus, the project seeks to contribute to enhanced services and programs; lower healthcare utilisation and cost; and targeted obesity research, with the ultimate aim of reducing levels of obesity-related morbidity and mortality and achieving better health outcomes for local communities.

 

For more information, please contact Celia Rae – Celia.Rae@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au