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Program to lift women's health

Cobram women will be involved in a Monash University study into the health and wellbeing of women.

JESSICA GRIMBLE February 28, 2013 4:06am

A study involving women from Cobram will focus on good health.


Cobram women will be involved in a Monash University study into the health and wellbeing of women.

The healthy lifestyle program, involving about 900 women aged 18 to 50 from 42 rural towns, aims to increase awareness of weight gain in women and teach women skills that increase their ability to recognise barriers to healthy lifestyles and support them to change behaviour.

Women’s Public Health Research’s lead researcher Cate Lombard said women were an important group to target in preventing weight gain because their lifestyle changed after they had children.

Dr Lombard said this change could impact their whole family.

‘‘Their level of physical activity drops off and their diet changes,’’ Dr Lombard said.

‘‘Women also tend to be in control of what food is in the house so they can influence what their partner and children eat and how much activity their children do.’’

The women will attend one session in their town, and may receive additional contact, and in 12 months and in two years all participants return to check on their progress.

‘‘We do not ask women to follow a strict diet or strict exercise plan as we want women to decide themselves what was important and possible to change at that time of their lives,’’ Dr Lombard said.

‘‘Women don’t want to feel pressured to reduce weight. In this program they decide their needs and we support them.’’

Dr Lombard said the research aimed to develop a low-cost program that prevented women living in small communities from gaining weight.

She said about 60 per cent of women in Australia were overweight and once weight was gained, it was difficult to lose.

She said governments were considering preventing weight gain a priority and prevention should start in teenage years and continue through pregnancy, motherhood and menopause.

‘‘Our research found that you can’t just give women a few brochures about diet and exercise and expect them to do it themselves,’’ Dr Lombard said.

‘‘Running such a program in a community setting such as a primary school worked well.

‘‘Women did not need to attend a clinic — in this case they were already at school because they were dropping off or collecting their children, and they helped each other with ideas and strategies about how to avoid gaining weight.’’

Researchers will meet women in Cobram on March 12 to 14 and deliver their program on a date to be confirmed.

To register your interest, phone 95947582 or email healthylifestyle@monash.edu

For more information go to www.healthylifestyleprogram.org.au

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