The Gold Coast is one of the first regions in Queensland to benefit from a new $27 million health program aimed at reducing chronic disease.
Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick said My health for life was a healthy lifestyle program free to eligible participants who had been identified as being at high risk of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
“The Gold Coast is a region where an active outdoor lifestyle is valued, so I think this program will be very attractive to local residents,’’ Mr Dick said.
“It is all about supporting people to get their health back on track or helping them to age well by maintaining active and healthy lives.”
Program participants will be offered six sessions of lifestyle coaching and support over six months by trained health professionals, and can choose between group sessions or personal, structured phone coaching.
Mr Dick said people were often unaware how much their lifestyle choices impacted on their personal risk of developing chronic conditions, particularly if there were no obvious signs or symptoms.
“We know, however, that cardiovascular disease is the second largest cause of death in Queensland, while stroke claims the lives of 10,000 people each year and around 60 Queenslanders are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every day,” he said.
In the Gold Coast local government area, 19,400 people (3.4 per cent of the local population) have type 2 diabetes.
It is estimated as many as 10,000 Gold Coast residents have diabetes and do not know it, while 42,000 have prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.
“These statistics highlight that change is needed and My health for life is an innovative program to do just that,” Mr Dick said.
“What’s good about My health for life is that people will learn how to make and maintain healthy behaviours that still suit their lifestyle but are achievable,” Mr Dick said.
“This is a significant investment in the health of Queenslanders and one of the State Government’s biggest prevention initiatives, sitting under the Healthier Happier banner.
“The program will be rolled out over the next three years right across the state, with different options available to suit people’s preferences and lifestyles.”
Mr Dick said the phone coaching option was expected to be popular with shift, hospitality and emergency workers on the Gold Coast, offering them flexibility around work times.
“There are currently 12 trained Gold Coast facilitators and nine group-based programs ready to accept enrolments and there is potential to establish more groups.”
My health for life was designed by a health alliance led by Diabetes Queensland and including the Heart Foundation, Stroke Foundation, Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, and Queensland’s Primary Health Networks. It is funded by Queensland Health.
Diabetes Queensland CEO Michelle Trute said the health alliance was excited about the program.
“I think it will have broad appeal to people who are looking for something different. They know they need to make some changes in their life but just want a bit of help getting there,” she said.
“The organisations that belong to the health alliance have been working in this space for some time, so we are delighted to be part of a program that works alongside GPs and other local health professionals.
“Instead of everyone trying to do a bit, we can combine efforts to achieve a stronger outcome.
“In the end, it is the community that reaps the benefits.”
People wanting to take part in the program should call 13 RISK (13 7475) to check their eligibility or visit www.myhealthforlife.com.au to find out more. They can also ask their local GP or pharmacist.