Bikes prominent in new obesity strategy
Bikes prominent in new obesity strategy

Australia has a new strategy to fight obesity and active travel is on the map that aims to get Australia healthy again.

Australia has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world with one third (31%) of Australian adults living with obesity.

About 14 million Australians are living overweight or with obesity—that’s two in every three adults and one in four children.

This is a crippling problem, not just for the individuals involved, but because related diseases will overwhelm the health system.

Although there has long been a focus on healthy eating as a solution, increasing emphasis in now being placed on the role of sedentary behaviour and inactivity.

Car travel is particularly unhealthy because of its sedentary nature, and the extended periods of time many people spend at the task.

And this is why bike riding of all kinds has become central to the solution.

"Our environments and lifestyles have made us less physically active. More machines and technologies, as well as traditional urban design, encourage us to drive and have led to more sedentary work and leisure activities, and much more screen time,” the strategy reports.

The report highlights active travel in Strategy 1.8: "Grow participation in walking, cycling, public transport, active recreation and sport by minimising cost and access barriers.”

"Promote and support safe active travel for adults and children (for example, through integrated land use planning and transport policy, accessible change rooms and free end-of-trip facilities, participation incentives, reduced car registration for bicycle commuters)”

And in Strategy 1.7: "Build more connected and safe community spaces that inspire people of all ages, abilities and cultures to engage in regular physical activity."

"Urban planning and design can create neighbourhoods that are activity friendly for everyone. This includes:
  • accessible, interconnected and well-lit bikeways
  • wide footpaths with shaded tree canopy
  • access to the natural environment
  • safe streetscapes and community spaces for social engagement
  • short (400–800 metre) walking distance to local destinations including shops, schools, parks, and transport stops."

The strategy says benefits of physical activity extend beyond the positive effects it has on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of individuals across their life.

"Physical activity brings people and communities together. More active forms of travel (such as walking and cycling) also benefit the environment."

You can read the full strategy here.

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