Preventative health vital to Ararat region

REGION - The value of preventative health in the Ararat region was brought to the attention of State parliament last week with Member for Western Victoria, Simon Ramsay, calling on the Federal Government to reinstate funding for preventative healthcare to support programs such as Healthy Together Victoria.

Mr Ramsay spoke in Parliament last week, urging for the continuation of the funding under the National Agreement for Preventative Health which plays a pivotal role in regions like Ararat which suffer from a high prevalence of obesity and diabetes.

"I am pleased that Minister David Davis has confirmed that additional funding will be provided to the program that supports 12 high priority Local Government Authorities (LGAs) to help combat the rising incidence of obesity and diabetes in Western Victoria Region.

"I have long been a strong advocate for more people being more active more often and, given the high rates of obesity and diabetes in Western Victoria Region, it is important that we encourage and mentor communities to be engaged in the preventative health care programs.

The Ararat Rural City municipality has one of the highest incidences of diabetes and obesity per capita in Australia, and Healthy Together Grampians Goldfields coupled with The Biggest Loser TV program, saw the community embrace preventative healthcare with a vengeance.

"That strong desire to be healthier has produced stunning results that include an 87 per cent change in hypertension, 70 percent reduction in Type 2 diabetes, 50 percent reduction in stroke indicators, an average 5.6 percent weight loss, and now has more than 800 people wearing 'pebbles' for real time data tracking for weight loss and blood pressure," Mr Ramsay said.

The Victorian Health Minister, David Davis, has confirmed that alternative funding has been sourced to continue this vital scientific study and community intervention program. Minister Davis told the Parliament that it was a study of `international significance' and is being considered for adoption in New Zealand.

The Healthy Together program is an important research program supporting community-level preventative health interventions.

"These programs under the National Partnership Agreement in Preventative Health are essential to communities in regional Victoria that are groaning under the weight of anunbalanced diet, lack of exercise, diabetes and obesity - costing Australians 120 billion dollars.

"All of this has increasingly happened despite the best efforts of ambassadors like Steve Moneghetti, who was honored in the Queens Birthday Awards on Monday, and even ex-politicians like former Member for Corangamite Stewart McArthur - also honored for his services to public service, and at 70, is still running marathons.

"The Federal Government must see these programs are not only a great economic investment in the healthcare

sector but an essential component for the well-being of communities like Geelong and Ararat where Healthy Together is making a difference," Mr Ramsay.

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