The Courier-Mail

Be pos­i­tive lest good in­ten­tions go to waist


ANTI-OBE­SITY mes­sag­ing needs to be more pos­i­tive and mar­ket the phys­i­cal ben­e­fits of weight loss rather than in­struct­ing peo­ple to “put down the re­mote” and “go for a walk”, ac­cord­ing to the state med­i­cal body.

Fed­eral Health Min­is­ter Sus­san Ley made the re­marks yesterday as she urged peo­ple to get ac­tive af­ter re­veal­ing half of Aus­tralians are fat, bat­tling di­a­betes or other dis­ease.

Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion Queens­land pres­i­dent Chris Zap­pala said while Ms Ley’s “ini­tia­tive is ex­cel­lent”, the “real” ben­e­fits of weight loss, which peo­ple are in­ter­ested in, should be pro­moted.

“Just say­ing you’re go­ing to re­duce car­diac dis­ease is dif­fi­cult to quan­tify for a pa­tient and make it real — but you can say your joints will be less painful, you’ll have less re­flux and bet­ter skin,” Dr Zap­pala said.

“It needs to be sim­ple but pos­i­tive and di­rect to the pa­tient. It’s fine to say ‘get off the couch’ but you have to match that with long-range think­ing that puts in place ser­vices that will have so­lu­tions for these pa­tients as well.

“It’s not the sim­plic­ity of (the mes­sage that) wor­ries me. It’s the neg­a­tiv­ity of it.”

Dr Zap­pala said peo­ple were not obliv­i­ous to their weight gain and it was im­por­tant for GPs to go back to them when­ever pos­si­ble to “rein­vig­o­rate” the weight-loss dis­cus­sion.

Heart Foun­da­tion health di­rec­tor Rachelle Fore­man said Queens­lan­ders who were a healthy weight were now a mi­nor­ity group, with the re­duc­tion in in­ci­den­tal ex­er­cise a ma­jor is­sue. “We cer­tainly haven’t seen ma­jor drops in leisure-time phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity but we have seen big changes over time in the work­place phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, ac­tiv­ity,” she said.

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