19 December 2011
Diabetes prevention and lifestyle programs
RMIT University Associate Professor Jeff Walkley is available for interview on the Federal Government's plans to stop funding a $200 million diabetes prevention scheme.
The scheme funded six-week lifestyle modification programs for people in their 40s at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, educating those with multiple risk factors on changing their diet and activity levels. Only about 3,000 people have taken part since the scheme began in 2008.
Associate Professor Walkley, Discipline Head in RMIT's School of Health Sciences, said there was clear evidence that lifestyle modification programs could have a positive effect on health.
"Lifestyle modification programs have been shown to be effective in the short-to-medium term across the full age spectrum - from adults to adolescents to children," he said.
"These programs are a crucial part of efforts to prevent type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related diseases.
"Marketing campaigns to encourage change are important but they lack sufficient intensity, can miss important population sub-groups and may not be specific enough to individuals.
"They don't develop the knowledge and behaviour that actually leads to lifestyle change.
"The advantage of a well-designed lifestyle modification program is the face-to-face interaction that enables individual needs to met, individual questions to be answered and individual levels of support to be offered."
Associate Professor Walkley researches in obesity, diabetes prevention and physical activity.
He led the innovative "Choose Health" lifestyle modification research project at RMIT, in which teenage participants lost an average of 5 per cent of body fat in just three months, while improving their exercise and eating habits. In a surprising result, parents also lost weight while their children were taking part in the project.
For interviews: Associate Professor Jeff Walkley, (03) 9925 7359 or 0407 345 525.
For general media enquiries: RMIT University, Marketing and Communications, Gosia Kaszubska, (03) 9925 3176 or 0417 510 735.