Page 2417 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 31 July 2018

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well as food preparation and storage, require continued efforts to protect us from foodborne illness.

To protect our healthy city, we must look to the future. Climate change is one of the most complex issues facing us today. In the words of the World Health Organisation’s director-general, it is the defining health issue of the 21st century. Climate change affects us all, but the impacts of climate change are disproportionately felt by the most disadvantaged in our communities. Children, the elderly, the socio-economically disadvantaged and those with pre-existing medical problems are particularly vulnerable.

In regard to healthy weight, the evidence is clear. Obesity is not simply a matter of personal responsibility, and leaving it to individuals alone will not fix this issue. For Canberrans to live long, healthy and productive lives, we need to create a city where the healthy choice is the easy choice. The domains of healthy weight, healthy eating habits and active lifestyles are three essential areas most likely to reduce our risk of chronic disease and early death, and to reduce increasing costs to our health system.

Despite the scale of the challenge, this report highlights a number of key achievements of this government. The ACT continues to be recognised as a leader in preventive health, most recently with regard to its whole-of-government efforts under the healthy weight initiative, which has focused on addressing the main drivers of overweight and obesity and which has achieved important improvements in risk factors, especially for children.

The report shows us that children are eating enough fruit and, excitingly, the percentage of children aged 5 to 15 years consuming sugar-sweetened beverages in the ACT is continuing to trend down. In 2010, 42 per cent of children consumed at least two sweetened drinks per week, with that number falling to 23 per cent in 2016.

As a result of coordinated and sustained efforts to encourage students to travel actively to and from school, including ride or walk to school and the active streets for schools programs, we are seeing increases in the proportion of children walking and cycling to school. Ride or walk to school has reached more than 31,500 students in 68 primary schools and has seen the proportion of students participating in the program, using active travel at least once a week, increase from 58 to 65 per cent. By incorporating active living principles into the Territory Plan, we are shaping tomorrow’s city so that it will promote active lifestyles for everyone.

While these systemic changes take time, our collective efforts are gaining momentum and starting to pay off. Surveys conducted over the past decade have reported that at least one in five children in the ACT are overweight or obese. While the latest figures for 2015-16 suggest a downward trend, the survey estimates tend to fluctuate in the ACT due to our small population. The trend in future years will be closely monitored to see if it continues downward and reaches significance.

While children’s weight appears to be improving, other challenges to healthy weight remain. Overall, the percentage of adults classified as overweight or obese remains stable at 63.5 per cent. However, for Canberrans aged 45-54, more than seven in 10

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