A recent survey by the NSW Department of Health has found that the proportion of North Coast residents who are obese has jumped from 15.3% in 2007 to 20.6% in 2008.

Obesity is classified as having a Body Mass Index of 30 or more. Body Mass Index is calculated as weight (in kilograms) divided by height (in meters) squared.

Levels of 30 or more dramatically increase your risk of developing a chronic disease such as some cancers, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) Nutrition and Physical Activity Co-ordinator, Jillian Adams, is concerned about this recent rise and listed the possible consequences of obesity.

“Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, some cancers, stroke, type 2 diabetes, gall bladder disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, osteoarthritis, back pain, gout, stress incontinence, erectile dysfunction and sleep apnoea,” Ms Adams said.

To help combat this rising level of overweight and obesity, NSW Health has launched The Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service – a free, confidential telephone service that helps people in NSW make lifestyle changes to get their weight back toward a healthy level.

“People who are overweight or obese or who would just like some help in improving their diet and being more active can use this service for free,” Ms Adams said.

“Don’t wait until you are obese before you do something about it – keep an eye on your waist measurement.

“For most women, a waist circumference over 80cm puts you at an increased risk, and more than 80cm for men.

“It is important that everyone in NSW has the opportunity to get help to reach their full heath potential, no matter what their income is or where they live.

“You can call the service to get information or you can get coaching advice as well.

“There are up to 10 coaching calls over six months to help motivate you. The coaches are really friendly and will help with developing personal health goals, maintaining motivation and creating solutions for successful lifestyle change,” said Ms Adams.

The Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service is accessible by calling 1300 806 258 Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm or by visiting www.gethealthynsw.com.au.