23 July 2018

More pregnant women will be able to access support to achieve a healthy lifestyle thanks to a $1.2 million NSW Government boost to a free coaching service.

The funding for the Get Healthy in Pregnancy telephone service and app is part of a $38 million investment in the 2018 NSW budget to tackle obesity, $25 million of which has been allocated specifically to fight childhood obesity.

Director of the Office of Preventive Health Professor Chris Rissel said families are front and centre in the battle to beat the bulge.

“About 100,000 new babies are born every year across the state and we want every mum-to-be to have access to credible advice on weight gain and other health issues that arise during pregnancy,” Professor Rissel said.

“The Get Healthy in Pregnancy telephone service has helped 5,250 women since it started in December 2016, and it can be accessed for free by women across NSW.

“While there’s no catch-all solution for tackling obesity, this funding boost for Get Healthy in Pregnancy will help more than 4,000 women in metropolitan, regional and rural areas of NSW over the next year.”

The funding will include a new program, Healthy Beginnings, to support parents of zero to two year old children, and a new app to give women additional support and advice on healthy eating and being active during pregnancy.

Professor Rissel said many women viewed weight gain in pregnancy as inevitable, reducing their physical activity and eating more liberally.

“Recent studies have shown excess weight gain in pregnancy is linked to childhood obesity, poor pregnancy and birth outcomes, and increased risk of chronic disease,” he said.

“When parents and children establish healthy eating habits and a love for exercise early on, this helps to safeguard kids from all sorts of health, psychological and social problems later in life.”

In the last 20 years the amount of weight women gain during pregnancy has been increasing, with over 60 per cent of women exceeding pregnancy experts’ recommendations.

21 per cent of NSW children aged five to 16 are above a healthy weight and only 24 per cent are active enough.

The NSW Government is on track to reduce childhood overweight and obesity by five percentage points from 2015 to 2025 as part of the Premier’s Priorities – equating to 62,000 more children at a healthy weight in NSW.

In addition to the $1.2 million Get Healthy in Pregnancy funding boost, the 2018-19 NSW Budget obesity initiatives include:

  • ​$23 million for the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity with an expansion of Go4Fun programs, and extensions to NSW Healthy Children Initiatives including Munch & Move in childcare services, Live Life Well@School, and Finish with the Right Stuff.
  • More than $1.5 million in research funding over two years to evaluate Time2BHealthy – an online healthy eating and active living support program for parents of 2-6 year old children, led by the Murrumbidgee Local Health District; and SWAP-It, a pilot initiative focusing on swapping what is packed in children’s school lunchboxes for healthier alternatives, led by the Hunter New England Local Health District.