It’s shaping up to be the biggest health issue of a generation. Around 1 in 4 Australian adults are obese. In Western Australia, the statistics are even more alarming. According to the Bureau of Statistics, WA has the highest proportion of overweight and obese people of all the States and Territories (1) with 66.3% of WA adults recording an unhealthy weight (2).
There’s no doubt that this is a complicated issue, with a number of potential causes. Whatever the cause, the result is the same. Our bodies are getting bigger and carrying more fat than they should be. Health services are scrambling to keep up with the increased rates of chronic diseases (including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers) – all of which have links to being overweight or obese.
So, what do we do about it? Most experts agree that we need a combination of public education, policy change and environmental change if we hope to halt this growing trend. We need people to know what a healthy lifestyle is.
Last year, the WA Health Department contracted the Heart Foundation (WA Division) and the Cancer Council Western Australia to develop a public education campaign to encourage Western Australians to lead healthier lifestyles. We sought the help and advice of a variety of experts, including Professor David Hill, one of the nation’s leading behavioural scientists.
And so, our hard-hitting LiveLighter campaign was born. If you haven’t seen the TV ads yet, you can view them here. Our aim is to give people fresh insights into how excess fat (particularly the type around your waist, coating your internal organs) affects your body and increases your risk of disease.
Given the large amount of people who are overweight or obese, the “bigger body” is now a common sight on our streets, leading many people to be unclear about what a healthy weight actually is. Our ads encourage people to take an honest look at themselves. Do you have a “grabbable gut”? If so, you’re probably carrying too much “toxic fat” around your organs. It’s this “toxic fat” which has been linked to an increased risk of disease.
LiveLighter goes a step further and shows viewers what this toxic fat looks like. It’s not pretty, but it grabs your attention. We need to grab attention, jolt people out of their complacency and get them motivated to do something about their weight. This important message also needs to stand out among the ocean of ads promoting unhealthy foods.
In just over two months, LiveLighter has already made an impact. The campaign has made headlines across the world, attracted more than 150,000 views on YouTube, generated thousands of subscriptions to our e-newsletter and really had people talking. Feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive. A number of people have already contacted us to share their early success stories and desire to encourage others to “start to LiveLighter”.
With the second phase of media hitting screens this month, we thought it a good time to unveil our Meal and Activity Planner – a free tool to help people establish healthy habits and support them on their way to a healthier weight. For 12 weeks, users are provided with a customised meal plan featuring recipes hand-picked by a team of LiveLighter experts. Users will also be able to schedule in their physical activity, track their progess and see their results, encouraging them to continue with their new, healthier lifestyle.
Do you have a grabbable gut? You’re not alone, but perhaps it’s time to do something about it.
What do you think about the LiveLighter campaign?
- (Australian Bureau of Statistics, Overweight and Obesity in Adults in Australia: A Snapshot, 2007–08)
- (WA Department of Health, Health and Wellbeing of Adults in Western Australia 2011, Overview and Trends)