Western Sydney mayors walking in a group with an oversized copy of the International Charter for Walking.

 

Compared to the national average, Western Sydney suffers much higher rates of lifestyle-related chronic diseases such as diabetes; a condition that is two to three times more prevalent in Western Sydney than the Sydney CBD.

 

Chronic disease is often difficult for individuals to manage, but it also puts extreme pressure on the region’s hospitals and health services. The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2016 – 2020 claims that diabetes alone is costing Australia around $14 billion dollars a year.

 

The good news is we can turn this around. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that around 80 per cent of lifestyle-related diseases are preventable[i]. However, many of the factors which influence an individual’s lifestyle choices – including environment, education and employment – lay outside the traditional health sector.

 

Access to frequent and reliable public transport, open greenspaces, health education, better access to healthy food and reduced commute times all make it easier for individuals to live healthier lifestyles.

 

All levels and sectors of government, including local councils have a role to play improving the health of the Western Sydney community.

 

For example, councils can contribute through the provision of safe and aesthetically pleasing public spaces, foot paths and parks, which can encourage increased physical activity within the community. Research has shown that the distance individuals are willing to walk increases in line with the ‘walkability’ of their environment.

 

The positive effects of walking have been extensively documented: every additional kilometre walked translates to a 4.8 percent reduction in the likelihood of being obese, and by extension, a reduction in the likelihood of associated lifestyle diseases.

 

WSROC has been working with the Premier’s Council for Active Living (PCAL), NSW Health and Western Sydney Diabetes to tackle this regional issue at the local level, but all levels and sectors of government (transport, planning, health and education) need to work together if we are to see a reduction chronic disease.

 

WSROC calls on our federal leaders to lead a true multi-sector approach to health, and reduce the burden of preventable disease on our health system.

 

Further information:

Australian Government – Australian National Diabetes Strategy (2016 – 2020) (Published 2016)

Western Sydney Diabetes – Taking the heat out of our diabetes hotspot (Published 2015)

Walk 21 International Charter for Walking

Active Travel: Fairfield Bicycle Recycling

Cities, towns, neighbourhoods: Glenmore Ridge, Penrith

Welcome to Live Life Get Active at Liverpool

 

Western Sydney news articles:

Sydney Morning Herald – Residents of dense neighbourhoods with better public transport and parks are healthier (Published 4 June, 2016)

Sydney Morning Herald – Diabetes threatens to overwhelm Western Sydney hospitals as obesity epidemic rages (Published 14 May, 2016)

Blacktown Advocate - Western Sydney councils pledge to tackle diabetes crisis by encouraging residents to walk (Published 3 November, 2015)

Fairfield City Champion – Walking charter a step in the right direction (Published 20 October, 2015)

Auburn City Council – International Charter for Walking (Published October, 2015)

Parramatta takes steps to get people walking (Published 7 September, 2015)

Parramatta Sun – Holroyd Council joins International Charter for Walking (Published 1 July, 2015)

 

WSROC media releases:

Beat diabetes this World Health Day (Published 4 April, 2016)

Western Sydney councils commit to walk the walk (Published 29 October, 2015)

Book a health check this National Diabetes Week (Published 13 July, 2015)

Western Sydney unites to tackle diabetes (Published 27 February, 2015)