Western Sydney: Make your move into a healthier future!

Healthy diets and regular exercise are the way to live a lifestyle free of burden! Source: Sharecare

How does it feel to hear that “compared to the national average, Western Sydney suffers much higher rates of lifestyle chronic diseases such as diabetes; a condition that is two to three times more prevalent in the Western Sydney than the Sydney CBD” . Does it make you scared? Does it make you want to adopt major changes to not only diet but also your lifestyle? This article is here to inform you about the trends of lifestyle diseases and the services available in Western Sydney so you can start to make the move into a healthier future!

Before I begin to inform you on the changes you can make, you must know that a lifestyle disease is “a disease associated with the way a person or group of people live” . Some common lifestyle illnesses found within the Western Sydney area include heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Heart Disease

“Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke” . Western Sydney is subject to higher amounts of people with heart conditions as “socioeconomic disadvantage is associated with an increased risk of developing heart failure and with inferior health outcomes following diagnosis” , meaning there are much more hospitalisations and operations conducted in the area than any other part of Sydney.

So what can we do to improve this?

· Using newer exercise equipment provided in parks as part of Local and State fitness programs to lessen the financial burden of gyms

· Joining walking groups under the National Heart Foundation to improve your fitness levels

· Following a healthy diet plan (either from the National Heart Foundation or local Dieticians) and purchasing foods with the Heart Foundation tick

· Visiting your local GP to gather information of having a healthy heart

· Organise local events with the Heart Foundation such as “Jump Rope for Heart” or “Big Heart Appeal” to emphasise importance of physical activity and fundraise for heart research.

The trends of heart disease and what Australians can do to change them. Source: Youtube

Type 2 Diabetes

“Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas” . The level of incidence of diabetes not only in Western Sydney but nationwide is becoming the “largest disease burden” as unhealthy diets are one of its main contributing factors. “About 300,000 of the one million people living in Western Sydney are conservatively estimated to have diabetes or be at high risk, with more than half the population of Auburn, Blacktown, Holroyd, Parramatta and the Hills District overweight”.

So what can we do to improve this?

· As the NSW Government has identified Western Sydney as a “hotspot” for diabetes, they have developed the Western Sydney Diabetes initiative in response. “The WSD initiative recognises that diabetes is everybody’s business and that partnerships between community health services, general practice, hospitals, specialist practices and allied health need to be improved so that people with diabetes or at risk of diabetes have access to more integrated and comprehensive diabetes services.”

· Getting special consultation for diet plans by your local dietitian and undertaking preventative measures like gathering diabetes information from your local GP will reduce the risk of diabetes as “only 7.1% of Western Sydney residents (NSW 8.4%) are eating the recommended daily intake of vegetables” .

· “Compared with other Local Health Districts, Western Sydney rates of physical activity are the lowest in NSW” so the NSW Government has increased the amount of exercise equipment in local parks. This aims to lessen the burden of lifestyle disease if citizens utilise these appropriately i.e.participating in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day .

· Visiting diabetes Education Services available in Blacktown and Mt Druitt Hospitals. “The education is tailored to the patients’ needs, taking into account the type of diabetes and co-morbidities, health literacy, need for healthcare interpreters and stage of disease process” .

Diabetes Australia’s “Young Leaders” program supports the current and future generations to reduce the incidence of diabetes. Source: Youtube

Obesity

Obesity is the condition of having “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health” . Journalist, Callan Lawrence found that “new national health research suggests more than 60 per cent of adults in western Sydney suburbs are overweight or obese.” Obesity has the ability to cause many major health problems and impairs physical activity, reducing life expectancy. Citizens in Western Sydney must take action to lessen the burden of obesity on their health status.

Obesity impacts our health and economy, so start making changes today!. Source: Youtube

So what can we do to improve this?

· Visiting your local GP to discuss the health risks associated with obesity and asking for referrals to dieticians or weight clinics.

· Visiting the Westmead Hospital Obesity Clinic if you do have “severe obesity or obesity associated with other medical problems such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and respiratory disorders” . This clinic offers treatments such as “The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, Low Carbohydrate and High Protein Diet, The 5:2 Diet, Very Low Calorie Diet, Appetite Suppressant Medication and Individual Exercise Programs”, operating every Tuesday.

· Encouraging children to participate in the Go4Fun Program to promote a healthier lifestyle by improving their eating habits and overall fitness.

· Accessing online services such as Well-Being Connect to speak to counsellors about any mental issues associated with obesity/weight gain.

· Calling the Get Healthy Service provided by the NSW Government for free advice on exercise and diet plans.

By utilising all these methods and services, Western Sydney residents will put themselves on the right path to a healthier tomorrow!