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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3895 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

osteoporosis and mental health problems. The vitality message reinforces the three essential things we can all do for ourselves to maintain good health and prevent illness.

The theme for the expo highlighted the importance of targeting young people with health and wellbeing messages and opportunities, but it also emphasised the individual. This meant that for those of us who no longer fit the young people category there were activities to appeal to our tastes and preferences when looking for something to improve our health and wellbeing.

Although figures show that the ACT has the highest participation rates in physical activity and the lowest proportion of obesity compared with the rest of the country, our activity levels have been declining since 1995 and within the same period obesity rates have increased. The good news, of course, Mr Speaker, is that we can all do something about it. Preventing overweight and obesity in children, improving nutrition among vulnerable groups and creating supportive physical environments for physical activity are just some of the ways the government is showing its commitment to not only maintaining a healthy lifestyle for Canberrans but also to improving it.

Katy Gallagher and I are committed to working together on the issue of obesity in children. We want to ensure that both health and education work cooperatively in addressing this issue in a range of ways, and I think Ms Tucker's points are well made in that regard. The expo presented us with a huge range of opportunities to learn more about improving our health and fitness, ranging from dancing, to easy aerobic activities, to kids' activities, to laughing clubs, to healthy ageing.

Fitness ACT should be congratulated on the expo, particularly the organisation, content and quality of their program of events. In particular, the public symposiums on healthy ageing and physical activity in schools provided plenty of food for thought as we continue to work to improve the health of all Canberrans.

MS DUNDAS (11.17): I, too, would like to add my congratulations to Fitness ACT for their successful expo. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend but, after seeing the program line-up and hearing what has been said today by members, I wish I had had the time to do so. The seminar program was outstanding and included sessions on general health, diet, posture, as well as youth suicide, and demonstrations on everything from pilates to body building to juggling for fitness.

Fitness is an integral part of being healthy. The fitter the population, the healthier the population and consequently the less we have to spend on health care. Physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancers and osteoporosis. It can also have beneficial effects on mental health, reducing the symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. I will repeat what has already been said during the debate today: fitness does not have to be undertaken in a competitive way for it to be successful and productive.

Sadly, 30 per cent of Canberrans, as we have seen recently in reports, are overweight and the prevalence of high level physical activity-that is, physical activity for a sufficient time and frequency to convey a health benefit-has declined 10 per cent between 1995 and 2001. Initiatives such as the "Way to Go"program and corporate challenges are a good start to countering some of these problems but I think we could be doing more to

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