South Auckland: How we move!

The team at Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura have been thinking a lot about movement and why it’s so important to the well-being and health of our local community.

Here’s what we know.  78% of adults and 80% of young people in the Auckland region take part in some form of sport and recreation each week. Yet, despite these seemingly positive statistics, we also have growing levels of obesity that are making our population really unwell.   31% of adults aged 15 years and over are obese and a further 35% are overweight.  It’s as grim with children.   11% of children (aged 2–14 years) are obese and a further 22% were children were overweight but not obese.   Add to the mix ethnicity inequities – with Pacific people 2.5 to 3 times and Maori 1.5 to 2 times more likely to be obese than New Zealand Europeans.

As a significant determinant of health, obesity increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis and depression and, in 2006 cost New Zealand somewhere between $722 and $849 million.  This is an issue Healthy Families MMP is tackling head on.

So what’s the disconnect?  We know there’s lots of movement within our local communities.  Many of us work in labour intensive, highly physical jobs.  We walk our kids to school, to the shops and around the park.  We play sport, we go to the gym and we run for the bus.  But still too many of us are overweight and unhealthy. 

We know that some of the movement we are doing doesn’t equate to good health or well-being.  We aren’t getting the balance right with what and how we eat and the type of physical activity we are doing. 

But the great thing is our community want to talk about it.  We are getting some incredible insights about how physical activity and sport is viewed and, what the barriers are for our community to get involved and keep it up.  

We are hearing really heartening stories.  Our community champions are purposefully building skill, capacity and support mechanisms to create space and independence for our people to move.   What makes this really amazing is that our community is also telling us that to create a positive movement cycle, it helps if we normalise physical activity, especially in the early years.  Having champions working to disable barriers and offer opportunities to maintain and sustain healthy movement is going to lead to positive change.

Based on what we are getting told, we are designing activations that will empower our community to find the right ways and means to get physical and move for ‘good’.   At the same time we need to challenge the fact our community is being diseased by convenience.  Access to fast, unhealthy food is making us sick.   There are lots of factors to consider including poverty, time pressures, social norms and lack of choice but we know there are rich opportunities to make changes to the places we live, work, play and learn to promote and support well-being and good health.

We’d love to hear your views, ideas and suggestions!  Please email Willie Iosia on [email protected]