‘Great initiative’ on its way

EFFORTS to combat the Latrobe Valley’s high obesity levels have been boosted by news that Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food program will include this region.

The celebrity chef’s high-profile initiative hit the headlines this week when the State Government announced it would partner in the cooking and nutrition education program, and last week the Valley was announced as one of 14 local government areas to be targeted.

Local government areas to participate in the program were selected according to key health indicators.

Figures released late last year showed the Valley had the eighth highest number of overweight or obese people in the state, with 53.7 per cent of the population falling into those categories.

Jamie Oliver’s program, launched last week, will include a mobile kitchen to deliver healthy cooking classes in the Valley.

The community-focused program teaches basic cooking and life skills and good nutrition to non-cooks to improve their quality of life and health, according to the government.

State Health Minister David Davis said the Ministry of Food would “form one part of the new Victorian Healthy Eating Enterprise to promote a vibrant healthy eating culture in Victoria”.

In welcoming news the Valley would be targeted by the program, State Member for Morwell Russell Northe said he understood the “whole community would be able to access the mobile unit”. He said the complications arising from obesity were “profound” and diminished the “social and sporting activities of people”, causing many numerous health issues.

“So any programs we can develop such as this are positive… and we have to get the message out at a very young age ,” he said.

“The message too, is that people can change and cooking can be a very enjoyable activity,” he said, adding that a “personality of the magnitude” of Jamie Oliver’s meant this would be a “great initiative”.