Understanding obesity in First Nations communities

by | Diet and Weightloss

obesity - aboriginal health

Obesity is the condition of being very overweight and having a lot of body fat. Obesity usually begins in childhood. When children are obese, they’re at risk of being obese as adults.

If you are obese, there’s plenty you can do to get to a healthy weight and maintain it. You can find out if you’re obese by calculating your body mass index or BMI. You can go to the Heart Foundation’s website or search BMI calendar. This will explain how to do the measurements or you can talk to a nurse, health worker or doctor to do the calculation. By working out what your BMI is, you will know if your weight is in a healthy range relative to how tall you are.

It’s also helpful to look at your waist circumference because this will tell you how much fat you’re carrying around your middle. Obesity develops over a long time and is usually caused by eating too much and exercising to little. Our eating and exercise habits start in childhood and usually continue into adulthood. The best time to prevent people from becoming obese is in early childhood, but it’s never too late to do something about it. You can help your children form good lifestyle habits with what they eat, how much they eat, and how much they move. Encouraging kids to play sport is really good because it gets them moving. It’s also good to feed your family healthier foods and to avoid feeding them unhealthy foods.

Examples of good foods are bush tucker, fruit, veggies, brown rice and wholemeal bread.

Examples of bad food are fast food, alcohol, sugary soft drinks and anything high in fat, sugar, or salt.

It’s also important to control how much food you’re eating or feeding your family. Sometimes we get used to eating more food than we need to and if we eat more than our body needs, this is one way we gain weight.

If you want to maintain a healthy weight, you also need to move. All adults should do regular exercise that makes you a bit breathless about five hours per week, but if you’re obese and want to lose weight you’ve got to control your eating first. When you decide to make changes to your diet and exercise, choose things that will fit into your daily routine. It can take a long time to make changes that last, but don’t give up, stay strong and keep trying, because making good choices will make you healthier and stronger and will give you more time with your family.

There’s lots of support to help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. For example, in New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland, you can call a free health and coaching service called Get Healthy. Talk to your doctor about the services available in your area. There might be some counselling and other supports available to help you on your journey.