The Indian crescent society of Australia (ICSOA) in partnership with Blacktown city libraries organised a free community health education seminar on childhood obesity prevention on Saturday 22 July 2017 at Max Webber Library, Blacktown, NSW. 

This event was organised as part of the “Make Healthy Normal” campaign by Blacktown City Council.

The event was attended by Australians from a diverse background including representatives and office bearers of various community organisations.  Cr Susai Benjamin, Cr Kathie Collins and Cr Moninder Singh were guests at this event.

MC for the program was Mr Laurence McDonnell, manager of library services, Blacktown Libraries. He welcomed all guests to this event and gave a brief overview of various community health education programs organised by Blacktown libraries in the month of July 2017.

This was followed by Cr Kathie Collins who emphasised the role of parents in managing childhood obesity and impact of the high rate of obesity and other chronic diseases in Western Sydney.

Mr Abbas Raza Alvi, President of the Indian Crescent Society of Australia, welcomed everyone with a formal acknowledgement of traditional owners of the land and provided an update of ICSOA activities, mission and future goals.

He explained that the objective and purpose of ICSOA is to integrate and have a collective voice for Indian Muslims in Australia, representing them on Indian platforms in Australia as well as contribute towards the welfare of Muslims in India.

Dr Habib Bhurawala, General Paediatrician and Head of Paediatric services at Nepean Hospital was the key note speaker at the event. He highlighted the ongoing burden of health diseases on Australian community despite advances in medical therapies and cost to the Australian economy.

Dr Bhurawala mentioned that obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease related admissions and death rates in Western Sydney are higher than most other parts of Sydney. He quoted the latest research that one in 4 children in NSW is either overweight or obese and that most Australian children spend more than 2 hours on TV/smart phone/iPad devices every day which exceeds Australian recommendations for maximum screen time of 2 hours daily.

Dr Bhurawala said that excessive time spent in front of TV/smart phone/digital device results in reduced time available for physical activities.  He discussed various strategies such as reducing screen time, getting more active and the role of the whole family in tackling childhood obesity. He provided details of different community resources and programs available to families.

Ms Reene Kennedy, paediatric and adult dietician was the second speaker at the event. She discussed the role of a healthy diet especially fruit and vegetables, using water as the main drink instead of juices and soft drinks and balanced diet.

Interactive question answer session followed their talk. This session generated a lot of interest from the audience.

One of the guests at this event, Cr Susai Benjamin spoke on behalf of The Mayor of Blacktown Council and thanked speakers and audience attending the event. He further added that Blacktown City council is investing in cycle ways and arranged community health education seminars and requested community members to provide suggestions and feedback so further improvements can be undertaken.