By Rob O'Brien
Six South Australian councils will pioneer a push to root out the causes of childhood obesity with an ambitious project announced by the State Government.
The $22.3m Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle (Opal) program for children and families will involve the councils of Mount Gambier, Port Augusta, Marion, Onkaparinga, Salisbury and Playford.
A team of six co-ordinators will start work on the project this week, which is aimed at tackling obesity and chronic disease in the community.
South Australian Minister for Health John Hill said Opal was based on a French model and is one of the few programs in the world that has proven results in combating childhood obesity.
“A quarter of our state’s children are in the unhealthy weight range, which places them at increased risk of health, emotional and social problems as youngsters and later of course as adults," he said.
“The implications of poor nutrition and a lack of exercise are serious, not just for the lives of those children, but also for the health system and the state’s economy.
“The OPAL managers will work closely with local groups to come up with community wide solutions to these important health issues.
The State Government is spending $11m to tackle obesity in the community and support healthy eating and physical activity in 2009-10, including funding of around $1.4 million for the Go for 2&5 campaigns and SA Health’s contribution to the Be Active campaign.
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