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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

Looma healthy lifestyle program



The Looma healthy lifestyle program commenced in 1993, following a health check in the community of Looma showing that 42% of adults were overweight or obese, and 25% had diabetes.

Supported by leading researcher Professor Kerin O'Dea and staff from Monash University, the program initially targeted those with diabetes or at high risk of becoming diabetic, but within a few years it was extended to the whole community. One aim of the program was to reduce cardiovascular disease risk by promoting the intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and the reduction in the intake of saturated fats. Activities included:

Four years after the commencement of the program an evaluation showed reductions in cardiovascular risk factors, but little change in the numbers of residents with obesity and diabetes.

In 1997 the program was broadened to include children. This involved the introduction of a school breakfast program, the introduction of healthy foods sold in the school canteen, and weekly health education classes at school.

The Looma healthy lifestyle program is now a part of the joint initiative of the WA Country Health Service, the Unity of First People of Australia and Caritas Australia. The school breakfast program is jointly run with Foodbank WA.

A health assessment of residents of Looma in August 2009 showed that the number of people in the community with diabetes had not increased since 2003, and the mean body mass index of the community had also remained stable over this time. In addition, 84% of children were of normal weight compared with 77% in the broader Australian community.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract


WA Country Health Service
189 Wellington Street
Perth WA 6000
PO Box 6680
East Perth Business Centre WA 6892
Ph: (08) 9223 8500
Fax: (08) 9223 8599

Related publications

White G, Skinner K, Skinner M, Rowley K, Lee A, Cincotta M, O'Dea K (1997)

A community-based intervention program for the prevention and treatment of obesity and diabetes in the Aboriginal people - the Looma diabetes program [poster].

In: Rural and remote Australia: health for all by the year 2000. Conference papers 4th National Rural Health Conference. Perth, Western Australia February 9-12 1997. : National Rural Health Alliance: 653-657

McDermott R, Rowley KG, Lee AJ, Knight S, O'Dea K (2000)

Increase in prevalence of obesity and diabetes and decrease in plasma cholesterol in a Central Australian Aboriginal community.

Medical Journal of Australia; 172(10): 480-485

Spinks M, Skinner M, Milgin A, White G, KOD (1995)

The Looma diabetes programme.

Paper presented at the Nutrition Networks '95 Conference: proceedings of the 4th National Conference: 'Waranyjarrigun Yagarrama Yagarrayirr' 'Gathering and Sharing'. , Broome, Western Australia

Evaluated publications

Rowley KG, Daniel M, Skinner K, Skinner M, White GA, O'Dea K (2000)

Effectiveness of a community-directed 'healthy lifestyle' program in a remote Australian Aboriginal community.

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health; 24(2): 136-44

Rowley KG (2001)

Improvements in circulating cholesterol, antioxidants, and homocysteine after dietary intervention in an Australian Aboriginal community.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 74(4): 442-448


Last updated: 6 May 2015
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