Changing bad habits
QCWA says portion distortion an issue in regions
THERE is a huge amount of freely available material, both online and in print, about how to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Based on projected population estimates over the next nine years, there will be 2.8million overweight or obese adults in Queensland.
Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Obesity also reduces our quality of life and life expectancy.
Eating a variety of nutritious foods is an important factor in preventing chronic disease and living a healthy life. Not to mention, feeling energised and well.
In rural and remote areas, portion distortion can be an issue, especially the balance between vegetable portions and other ingredients.
As well, the perceived cheapness and accessibility of ready-to-eat convenience food (which is generally low in nutrient value and high in calories/kilojoules) is attractive and makes maintaining healthy eating habits particularly challenging.
In response to the poor health status of Queenslanders, the Queensland Country Women's Association launched the Country Kitchens program in August 2015.
Since then, a team of qualified dietitians and nutritionists have been travelling the state, delivering a series of Hands On Nutrition Workshops, Foodie Talks and showcases to residents in regional, rural and remote communities.
"QCWA's Country Kitchens is a unique and very accessible program combining the essential health messages Queenslanders need to grasp with the strong community advocacy of the QCWA. Anyone can participate," program coordinator Fiona McKenzie said. Funded by the Queensland Government, QCWA's Country Kitchens program aims to inspire country Queenslanders to adopt healthier eating practices, specifically, eating more fruit and vegetables each day.
The program also promotes cooking at home, checking portion sizes, sitting less and moving more, and reducing sugary beverages.
The series of Hands On Nutrition Workshops are a useful way to improve nutritional awareness as well as cooking skills across a range of meals.
Each participating community has a dedicated facilitator, a local QCWA Branch member who has been trained and supported by the QCWA Country Kitchens team, to effectively roll out the program to their community.
More than 80 QCWA Branch members have so far been trained as QCWA Country Kitchens program facilitators.
Encouragingly, a total of 826 participants attended the program in the 12 months to December 2016.
Seventeen out of the targeted 64 communities across the state have completed the program, with a further 24 locations committed for activity this financial year.
A key outcome of the QCWA Country Kitchens program is the Healthy Catering Guidelines, which provide a set of benchmarks for healthy eating across everyday and discretionary foods.
They also illustrate how to easily modify commonplace recipes to make them healthier.
"Participating is so easy. Some communities decide to hold a Foodie Talk which is a one hour information session delivered by one of our team of accredited practicing dietitians.” Ms McKenzie said.
As well, communities can choose to hold a showcase at a local event such as an agriculture show, expo, sporting events or fete.
Some areas, after completing the Hands On Nutrition Workshops, have launched a community activity.
Chinchilla for example, has a new walking group. Other ideas include a tuckshop cooking group, community vegetable garden or young mother's collective.
"All these activities have come about because of the QCWA Country Kitchens program," Ms McKenzie said.
"It is so reassuring to see the early results of this very worthwhile initiative."
Formal evaluation of the QCWA Country Kitchen program to date is promising.
Early data suggests vegetable consumption has actually increased from 3.7 to 4 serves a day as a result of the program. And the good news doesn't stop there. The latest 2016 report of the Chief Health Officer Queensland indicates obesity rates are steadying: up to 2010, adult obesity increased by about 3% per year but since then there is no evidence of further increase.
Nevertheless, in 2014-15, 30% of adults were obese by measurement and two-thirds were overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has plateaued at less than 10%, although 1 in 4 children is overweight or obese.
"We are confident and excited the QCWA Country Kitchen program is contributing to these improvements in health outcomes for Queenslanders," Ms McKenzie said.
Getting involved is as easy as getting in touch with your local QCWA branch or member, or visit www.qcwa.org.au/countrykitchens and signing up to the Monthly Munch newsletter. EVENTS Hands On Nutrition Workshops at Longreach Civic Centre. Sundays 9am to 1pm: Workshop 1: 5th March Workshop 2: 2nd April Workshop 3: 30th April. QCWA Country Kitchens Facilitators: Bry Kerr and Fiona Owens. Hands On Nutrition Workshops in Blackall. Saturdays 9am to 12.30pm: Workshop 1: 4th March Workshop 2: 1st April Workshop 3: 29th April. QCWA Country Kitchens Facilitator: Fiona Ludgate. Brand Insights is sponsored content.
COOK UP: Marina Taylor, (third from left) Divisional President Gympie and South Burnett with participants from other districts at the Facilitator Training Day in Imbil.