07:03pm Wednesday 29 January 2020

Western Sydney unites to fight obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease

The Charles Perkins Centre Nepean, based at the University of Sydney’s Nepean Clinical School, will bring together world-leading obesity experts with Western Sydney’s health and policy frontline to find practical solutions to the region’s number one health priority.

“We’re starting a grassroots movement to make sure people in the community who are suffering from obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease know what to do and where to go to receive the best possible support,” said Professor Michael Peek, Director of the Charles Perkins Centre Nepean and Associate Dean of Sydney Medical School Nepean.

As Australia’s leading causes of morbidity and mortality, the effects of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are particularly pronounced in Sydney’s West. More than half of Western Sydney’s rapidly growing and ageing population is overweight or obese, with high rates of stress, diabetes and smoking.

“When you look at the health statistics across the state, Western Sydney has one of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Professor Peek said.

“The reasons for this are many and varied – it’s not just health services, it’s the availability and cost of food, the design of public spaces, our patterns of work, and many other factors.

“Services exist in Western Sydney, but they’re not as well co-ordinated as we might like, and it’s hard for members of the community to know where to go for help.”

Leaders in the community including the federal and state members of parliament, mayor of Penrith and local councillors will join University of Sydney academics and representatives from the Nepean Blue Mountains LHD, schools, Medicare Local and the Penrith Business Alliance.

“We’ll discuss what we can put in place to prevent obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease from continuing into the future, as well as better coordinating the existing services. We also want to build research into our services so that we can make sure what we’re doing is working, and if it’s not working then do something else,” Professor Peek said.

According to Monique Desmarchelier, Health Strategy Officer at Penrith City Council and a speaker at the event, all sections of the community must unite to find solutions to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“The health department cannot solve this issue alone. We need to work together to ensure our health and wellbeing,” Ms Desmarchelier said.

“Every part of our community must be involved in a collaborative effort, and bringing representatives from health and the community together at this forum is a vital first step in preventing obesity and related conditions in our region.”

The Charles Perkins Centre Nepean is part of the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, a world-leading, $500 million initiative aimed at finding big picture, real-world solutions to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and related conditions. The centre brings together international leaders across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines. Instead of looking for a silver bullet solution to the issues, the centre looks for solutions at the junctions between disciplines – doctors and health scientists work with philosophers, marketers, agriculturalists, architects, economists and many others.


Media enquiries: Katie Szittner, 02 9351 2261, 0478 316 809, katie.szittner@sydney.edu.au

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