Hannah Lanham has a huge weight on her shoulders - she is the sole nutritionist tackling obesity in one of Australia's heaviest towns.
Last year, Katherine earned the unfavourable title of most overweight and obese town in the nation, with almost 80 per cent of the adults tipping the scale.
It also had the second highest rate of obesity in Australia - 43 per cent and almost twice the rate found in Darwin.
"We need to get everyone on board to tackle obesity," Ms Lanham said.
"We need a whole town approach - more promotion and everyone coming together to create an intervention.
"There are a lot more barriers people face in Katherine - it's hot, fresh fruit and vegetables are less readily available, and unfortunately not enough money is going towards fixing the issue."
Ms Lanham arrived in Katherine three months ago and saw the problems straight away.
She said the heat, lack of healthy foods and the way the town is set up were not helping people tighten their belts.
"Obesity is an extremely complex issue, I think we need to see a change in what people are eating and more work places encouraging healthy attitudes and activities like riding a bike to work.
"We need more ideas on board, because nutrition isn't the only issue. The environment in Katherine is really hot making exercise or even a short three kilometre bike ride to work really difficult.
"Even changing the store layout at Woolworths - our only store - could help. Right now we have junk food and highly processed food on show at the end of isles promoting unhealthy purchases people might not think about until they see them."
Still finding her feet, she said she had ambitious plans to bring services together and change attitudes.
She said her priorities right now focus on prevention and ensuring Katherine's many services know what their role is in fostering good health.
"There are a lot of big initiatives in the NT, but just not enough promotion, and not enough funding" she said.
"There has been quite a bit of research into preventative health and it is making sure the community is aware and is collaborating.
"We have a lot of services in Katherine which provide food to clients: hospitals, schools, aged care homes and drop in centres, so it is really important they do know they play a role in improving obesity rates and promoting health."
The Northern Territory Government has set out five objectives to tackles its high rates of obesity, contributing towards its high rates of chronic diseases.
The Northern Territory Health Nutrition and Physical Activity Strategy 2015 - 2020 is intended for people working in a position to influence a healthy diet and an active lifestyle, and is something Ms Lanham has been closely focusing on.
In her short time in Katherine, she has initiated a multitude of programs within the town and the surrounding communities.
"The aim is to increase the proportion of people eating healthy and exercising to reduce chronic disease and prevent early death," she said.
To list a few, the nutritionist is:
- Working with the School of the Air teaching young people the importance of healthy food.
- Reviewing Clyde Fenton Primary School's menu with the view of removing unhealthy food and extending into the other schools.
- Working closely with parents through the Families as First Teachers program (she says prevention is key as bringing people back from weight issues in older age brings a range of problems).
- Running an antenatal clinic at the hospital with the aim of preventing unhealthy weight gain during and after pregnancy.
- Conducting cooking classes at Binjari community and working with CDP workers to understand how to cook healthy on a budget.
- Restarting community gardens.
- Working with food ladder to promote healthy breakfasts at school.
- Providing a free dietitian service at the hospital.
"I think we can [reduce rates of obesity], it requires a lot of people and a lot of work, but with everyone coming to the table we can make a difference."
The proportion of Australian adults with obesity has risen 27 per cent in the last 10 years to almost a third of the population, placing them at a higher risk of diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, arthritis and dementia.
Ahead of World Obesity Day in October of last year, Professor Rosemary Calder from the Mitchell Institute dropped the heavy news of Katherine's weighty issue.
She said the spread of obesity varied dramatically across the country, rising notably in low-socioeconomic communities, highlighting the impact of poverty on health.
"We know place impacts the rate of overweight and obese people. Areas more remote tend to have more fast food outlets and less options for purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables," she told the Katherine Times said.
"There is often an over reliance on cars for transport as well."
She said policy change was needed at every level of government to address the epidemic.
"The establishment of a national preventive health taskforce by the Federal Minister for Health is an essential first step in the right direction," she said.
"It is vitally important that governments at all levels focus on collectively addressing the impact of where we live on our health.
"Local governments are critical to local planning and the creation of healthy and active spaces for their residents. However, they are often hampered by lack of funding and regulatory power.
"There is opportunity for councils to put in place infrastructure to encourage people to be more active and healthy. "
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