Ministry of Food centre manager Danella Martin (left) and employee Darren Foxcroft (right) with celebrity chef Ben O’Donoghue at the launch of HAPI (Happy Active People in Ipswich) at the North Ipswich Corporate Centre.
Ministry of Food centre manager Danella Martin (left) and employee Darren Foxcroft (right) with celebrity chef Ben O’Donoghue at the launch of HAPI (Happy Active People in Ipswich) at the North Ipswich Corporate Centre. Sarah Harvey

Mums join obesity battle

RETIREES and stay-at-home mums are being targeted as part of a new drive to curb obesity in the Ipswich region.

Ipswich City Council yesterday launched the Healthy Active People in Ipswich (HAPI) initiative, which will provide free fitness and healthy eating sessions for those willing to take up the challenge.

The program is being supported by a $700,000 Federal Government contribution and the involvement of Jamie's Ministry of Food, The National Heart Foundation, Ipswich Hospital Foundation and Austcycle.

Health and Regulation Committee chairman Andrew Antoniolli said each of these groups was offering fully subsidised classes, with the aim of improving the overall health and wellbeing of the community.

"Despite our history of producing sporting greats, our city has unfortunately been branded as an unhealthy community, with high rates of obesity and chronic illness," Cr Antoniolli said.

"That's what HAPI is all about."

According to Ipswich City Council figures, obesity rates in the district are 110% higher than the state average, with 62.4% of adults considered overweight or obese in the year 2009.

The city is also home to an above average number of people considered most at risk of chronic disease, including the elderly, disabled, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and migrants with poor English.

Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann said he believed the government needed to do more to support programs that maintained people's wellbeing, but HAPI was a good start.

Medal-winning Olympic and Commonwealth Games weightlifter Deborah Acason has been selected as the ambassador for HAPI.

Carrying newborn baby girl Eva, Mrs Acason spoke of the importance of educating parents about healthy eating habits.

"As a mum and a wife I now know about some of the barriers that come to maintaining a healthy lifestyle," she said.

Information about how to apply to participate in HAPI is available at www.ipswich.qld.gov.au/hapi or by calling 3810 6666.



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