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Annual Report 2003/2004 Menzies School of Health Research



Annual Report 2003/2004 Menzies School of Health Research

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Tabled paper 1523


Tabled Papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT






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Menzies School of Health Research 2003 Annual Report | Population Health & Chronic Diseases Division | 19 Community-based interventions to address health problems in the East Arnhem Land community of Galiwinku are currently being trialed in the Galiwinku Healthy Lifestyle Project. This project has the primary aim of identifying ways of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Indigenous Australians. Interventions under way include a household garden project, exercise programs and a collaboration with the local store and takeaway outlet to increase availability of fresh fruit and vegetables. Baseline screening was conducted in 2002, with two year follow-up screening planned for June 2004. Continued investigations into the role of diet in protecting against cardiovascular disease as part of a project studying biochemical markers of dietary intake and their links to risk of chronic disease. The study has discovered high levels of markers indicating blood vessel damage in association with very low blood levels of antioxidants in a number of Indigenous communities indicative of very low intakes of fresh fruit and vegetables. Work is currently under way to assess how perceived mastery and control of ones destiny within a community affects the implementation, success and sustainability of diabetes intervention strategies. This study seeks to understand how psychological and social responses to intervention programs affect behavioural changes. Key achievements MSHR 2003 Research & Education Report provides detail on all research projects and is available online at www.menzies.edu.au Poor nutrition is one of the main factors causing high rates of diabetes and heart disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Obesity is one of the main risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease and it is associated with poor diet, lack of exercise and many social factors. This program aims to develop a framework for the implementation and evaluation of sustainable and transferable community-based interventions to reduce the risk and/or impact of diabetes, and renal and vascular disease in Indigenous communities. The focus of the interventions is to improve the quality of diets, increase physical activity and reduce smoking, and to provide comprehensive primary health care, including pharmacotherapy of people with, or at risk of, chronic disease. The interventions are based on a culturally acceptable model of a traditional huntergatherer diet and lifestyle: a high quality diet derived from a wide variety of highly palatable, minimally processed plant and animal foods, with physical activity built into daily routines, and with strong community support and a rich spiritual life. The interventions need to be directed not only at improving knowledge of what constitutes a healthy diet and lifestyle, but also at the environmental determinants of chronic diseases (food supply, opportunities for exercise, smoke-free areas/policies). There is strong evidence that interventions can only be successful over the long term if they are fully embedded in community structures. This requires building capacity at the community level. Community-based Interventions TOP: Maintaining traditional food sources and practices (in this case hunting for fish) creates opportunities for exercise, and of course, can net quite a catch! LEFT: MSHR, Prof Kerin ODea, takes a walk around Timmy Galulingus garden. The Burwa Natha Home Garden project is just one of the interventions under way in Galiwinku as part of the Healthy Lifestyle Project. (Photos courtesy of Galiwinku Healthy Lifestyle Project, MSHR)