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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
Monash Centre for Population Health and Nutrition
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