Chang­ing bad habits

QCWA says por­tion dis­tor­tion an is­sue in re­gions

South Burnett Times - - RURAL WEEKLY -

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.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

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.

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