Preventive health and wellbeing

Preventive health and wellbeing is about all of us; the way we live our lives, the opportunities and chances we have and the communities and environments we live in. Preventive health is about preventing disease rather than treating disease. Our health comes from more than our individual choices. Put simply our health is determined by the circumstances in which we are born, grow, live, work and age (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012: Australia’s Health 2012).

Many of the determinants of health are outside of the direct control of the health sector, however by building strong partnerships across all spheres of government and community, we can plan, collaborate and work together to use our strengths to make South Australia a better place to live.

SA Health, including the Public Health Partnerships Branch works with a range of partners to improve the health and wellbeing of all South Australians by supporting implementation of the South Australian Public Health Act 2011  and the South Australian Public Health Plan “South Australia: A Better Place to Live” with a priority focus on two action areas:

  1. Stronger and healthier communities for all generations - This public health priority is concerned with the physical and social infrastructure of where we live. It is important to ensure that our cities, towns and neighbourhoods are designed in ways that are mindful of those factors that contribute to health. This places a focus on how to make our communities more liveable, walkable, inclusive and accessible.
  2. Increasing opportunities for healthy living, healthy eating and being active - Councils are encouraged in particular to include considerations for boosting opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy food in their public health planning.

Promoting health and wellbeing for South Australians

The following are used to promote health and wellbeing to all South Australians. 

SA Health does not provide sponsorship for community events.

Key strategies and policies

Community programs, campaigns and education resources

  • Healthy Workplaces: works in partnership with industry to create healthy work places which make it easier for people to eat well, be active, quit smoking and drink responsibly

  • Better Health Coaching Service: a confidential information and telephone based coaching service that helps adults make lifestyle changes in relation to healthy eating, being physically active and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight

  • Strength for Life: promotes health and well-being amongst people over 50 through strength training programs run by accredited fitness providers

  • The SA Cervix Screening Program: The SA Cervix Screening Program (SACSP) supports the delivery of the National Cervical Screening Program in South Australia. Towards this goal, SACSP is focused on improving service delivery and maximising participation in cervical screening in South Australia via community education, partnerships with groups at increased risk of cervical cancer, awareness campaigns, grants, healthcare provider updates and training, local research and partnerships with key agencies

  • National Cervical Screening Program: The National Cervical Screening Program aims to reduce illness and deaths from cervical cancer, in a cost effective manner through an organised approach to cervical screening.

General information

  • Healthy living: provides top tips for healthy living
  • Helpful information: ideas, guidelines and tips about healthy eating for your particular stage in life
  • Healthy places: resources and tools for councils, workplaces, schools, community organisations and education settings to promote healthy living, healthy eating and being active 

Health and wellbeing data

South Australian data

Tracking and identifying trends in population health, including risk factors and chronic disease, can be done through the South Australian Population Health Survey, which provides information and links to key reports on:

  • nutrition and physical activity
  • biomedical risk factors - weight, cholesterol, high blood pressure
  • chronic disease - arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, osteoporosis;
  • health service use
  • multiple risk factors
  • alcohol consumption
  • disabilities.

SA Health also produces reports on the following within the health statistics page:

  • breast screening
  • cervical screening
  • childhood immunisation
  • sexually transmitted diseases.

National data

Nationally, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) regularly reports on Australia’s health, including a wide variety of risk factors and chronic diseases.

Information for students

We receive a lot of requests from students and the general public of all ages for information about health topics such as nutrition, physical activity, obesity, health promotion, data and statistics, and what the Government is doing to improve health.

Unfortunately, we are unable to answer individual enquiries or send out hard copies of documents. However, to help you find the information you need we have provided links to commonly requested documents and information.

About SA Health

Includes information about SA Health, how to access information, health statistics, Local Health Networks, publications, research and legislation.

Defining health promotion

The Australian Health Promotion Association provides information on Health Promotion, the Ottawa Charter and what is going on in South Australia in Health Promotion.

See the World Health Organization health promotion glossary which explains commonly used health promotion terms.

Social determinants of health

The World Health Organization states that ‘the social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries’.

Ten key determinants

A report published by the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe titled Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts, explores ten key determinants and their interaction with health outcomes. These ten key determinants are:

  • social gradient
  • early life
  • stress
  • social exclusion
  • working conditions
  • unemployment
  • social support
  • addiction
  • healthy food
  • transport.

Obesity and healthy weight

The SA Health's healthy weight page provides information on:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • benefits of being at a healthy weight
  • weight at different stages of life including during pregnancy
  • tips for losing weight
  • staying at a healthy weight.

Healthy eating

SA Health's healthy eating page provides information on topics such as:

  • eating well
  • eating at different stages of your life
  • an explanation of kilojoules
  • portion sizes
  • shopping on a budget
  • healthy recipes
  • healthy eating at home. 

Physical activity

Learn more about physical activity on the Preventive Health SA website.

Healthy places

SA Health's healthy places page provides information on where we:

  • where we live
  • where we learn
  • where we work and play
  • how organisations can support healthy eating and being active for the staff and community they serve.

Better Health

Better Health is a free confidential information and telephone based coaching service that helps adults make lifestyle changes in relation to healthy eating, being physically active and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Health campaigns

While there is no longer national or state television advertising for the following campaigns, a number of useful resources are still available:

Frequently asked questions

Below are the answers to a number of questions that we are commonly asked. If you are unable to find what you are looking for through the links above, please go to the Healthy living section on this website for more information.

How can I achieve a healthy weight?

There are many things you can do! The following list of programs and websites has ideas and suggestions to help you get started on your weight loss goal. Always consult your GP before you commence a weight loss program.

  • Better Health This free telephone support program is designed to help South Australian adults to improve their health. A personal coach will help you set and achieve your health goals. This qualified health professional, will help you take action to make lifestyle changes to increase physical activity, eat a healthy diet and achieve and maintain a healthy weight. You will receive up to 10 phone calls from your health coach to keep you motivated and answer any questions that you have. For more information visit Better Health.
  • The Go for 2&5® website helps adults and children include at least 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables into meals and snacks every day.
  • The Healthy Weight Week website provides information to help you assess your weight and eating habits, recipes, healthy eating tips and more.
  • The Heart Foundation Healthy Eating website provides health information and recipes, including how to reduce saturated fat intake for good heart health.
  • The Preventive Health SA be active page provides information on being physically active for everyone from children to adults, the mature aged to those with a disability.
  • The great thing about walking is you can do it anytime, anywhere. To make it even easier, the 'A walk can work wonders' page has some great ideas.

What are the recommendations for healthy eating?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines provides information about the types and amounts of foods, food groups and dietary patterns that:

  • promote health and wellbeing
  • reduce the risk of diet-related conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and overweight and obesity
  • reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines apply to all healthy Australians, as well as those with common health conditions such as being overweight. They do not apply to people who need special dietary advice for a medical condition, or to the frail elderly.

  • The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating helps Australians and their health professionals work out the types and amounts of foods they should eat each day based on age, gender, body size, activity level and other factors, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding status.

I think I eat a healthy diet, but I am not sure. How can I find out?

If you are still unsure and want specific advice about your individual needs, you can contact an Accredited Practising Dietitian. See Is there anyone I can talk to about what I should be eating? for details on how to find a Dietitian.

For individual and/or group advice on healthy eating/healthy lifestyle, a list of private practising dietitians can be found by going to the Dietitians Association of Australia website. Click on the 'Find an APD' section and then enter 'SA' into the state search box. This will bring up a list of Accredited Practising Dietitians and what services they provide. You will then need to contact a dietitian individually to check about their fees and availability. You could also try contacting the dietitian located in your nearest GP Plus Health Care Centre.

Is there anyone I can talk to about what I should be eating?

You can ask your GP for some general information on healthy eating. Dietitians are qualified professionals trained to give dietary advice specific to your needs, whether it be for general health, or for a specific health condition. Generally if you have been diagnosed with a problem that requires a special diet (for example type 2 diabetes or a high cholesterol level), your doctor will refer you to a Dietitian for dietary advice.

Dietitians work in both the public and private sector. You could try contacting your local health service or GP Plus Health Care Centre who may have a Dietitian available for individual advice. Depending on your particular situation, they may be able to provide some suggestions about relevant programs. Try the National Health Services Directory to find the nearest health service or dietitian near you.

Another option is to see a private Accredited Practising Dietitian. For a list of private practising dietitians in a specific area, go to the website of the Dietitians Association of Australia and then click on the 'Find an APD' section and then enter 'SA' into the state search box. This will bring up a list of Accredited Practising Dietitians and what services they provide. You will then need to contact a dietitian individually for information about their fees and availability.

I am looking for a dietitian or nutritionist to speak to a group. Where can I find one?

See Is there anyone I can talk to about what I should be eating? for details on how to find a Dietitian.

I was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Where can I find information about diabetes?

Diabetes SA is devoted to assisting people with diabetes in South Australia. The website is packed with information and links to useful resources.

Where can I find more information about cholesterol?

The Heart Foundation website has all sorts of information about cholesterol, fats, and heart disease.

I am a vegetarian, how do I know if I am eating a healthy diet that will provide me with all my body needs?

It is important that we eat a healthy diet with a wide range of foods from each of the five food groups so we get all the nutrients we need for good health - whether or not we are vegetarian.

The link below provides some general advice about vegetarianism. If you require personal advice you should consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian. See Is there anyone I can talk to about what I should be eating? for details on how to find a Dietitian.

Vegetarian alternatives to meat and dairy foods are included in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

How much physical activity do I need to do to keep healthy?

The level of physical activity you need to do depends on your age:

There are many ways you can incorporate more physical activity into your day.

I've heard a lot about the obesity epidemic. What is the government doing about it?

We now live in a state where more people are overweight or obese than in the healthy weight range. If we do not reverse this trend, large numbers of our population will face deteriorating health and a lower quality of life and our economy will need to bear the burden of increased costs to the health system. The scale of the challenge requires widespread, coordinated and sustained action by more individuals and organisations. Ultimately only individuals can change what they eat or how much physical activity they do. But, it's easier to change behaviour and adopt healthy living habits when the people around us value and support good health. The more supportive the physical and social environment, the easier it is to be healthy.

The South Australian government has a strong commitment to a healthy and active State where communities are safer and healthier, children can learn better, our lifestyle is more sustainable and our population is more productive.

In South Australia, there is a specific target in South Australia's Strategic Plan to increase the proportion of South Australian adults and children at a healthy body weight by 5% by 2017. Also, the Eat Well Be Active Strategy for South Australia 2011-2016 was developed as a plan of action to address this target.

What programs do we have in South Australia to tackle obesity?

  • Healthy Workplaces aims to create healthy work places which make it easier for people to eat well, be active, quit smoking and drink responsibly. The initiative delivers on the state's Men's health strategy by partnering with male dominated industries to create healthy work places. The initiative will reach large numbers of men through these industries to create cultures, environments and programs that make the healthy choices the easy choices. Examples of this include increasing healthy food choices for catering and canteens, providing onsite bike racks, developing staff wellbeing and smoke-free policies and including healthy lifestyle information in staff induction programs and training. The work builds on the achievements of the Healthy Workers – Healthy Futures initiative previously funded under the Commonwealth's National Partnership Agreement on Preventative Health (NPAPH) funding (2012 to 2014).
  • Health Star Rating is a front-of-pack labelling system that rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns it a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars. It provides a quick, easy, standard way to compare similar packaged foods. The more stars, the healthier the choice.
  • Menu Board Nutrition Labelling Chain food outlets now show kilojoule information on their menu boards thanks to amendments to the South Australian Food Regulations 2002.

I'd like to know more about what is being done about healthy eating in schools.

The Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) Right Bite Healthy Food Supply Strategy for South Australian Schools is the major strategy impacting on food supply and healthy eating promotion in the school environment, at a policy level, in SA.

How can I get more copies healthy eating and physical activity resources?

SA Health has two resource order forms; one is for consumers and the other for community groups. Visit our Healthy living section to select the right order form for you.

Where can I find statistics or data about national or state health topics such as obesity, alcohol consumption, fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity levels, and other health risk factors?

SA Health monitors population health status and trends for a range of health risk factors and chronic diseases to assist in the planning, implementation and evaluation of health services, policies and programs. A selection of South Australian reports is available for public use:

  • Our South Australian Monitoring and Surveillance System (SAMSS) page provides further information and links to key reports on:
  • nutrition, physical activity
  • biomedical risk factors – weight, cholesterol, high blood pressure
  • chronic disease – arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, osteoporosis
  • health service use, multiple risk factors, alcohol consumption and disabilities.
  • Our Risk factors for health statistics provides further information and data about breast screening, cervix screening, childhood immunisation and sexually transmitted diseases.

The Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) provides data on health and its determinants in Australia. For information on social, economic and health inequalities the Social Health Atlas of Australia is available on their website.

Nationally, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) regularly reports on Australia's Health and a wide variety of risk factors and chronic diseases.

I've heard about body image in the news. What exactly are they talking about and what is the government doing about it?

Body image is the way we think, feel, and see our own body. Someone who has a positive body image is generally happy with how they think, feel, and see their body. On the other hand, someone with a negative body image has negative thoughts and feelings about their body.

A positive body image is important because it helps our psychological health and development.

SA Health provide specialist services for people with body image and eating disorders.

The Australian Government has several initiatives around body image.

  • Funding for the Butterfly Foundation provides body image education services and support to individuals and their families.
  • Education Services Australia is developing posters and supporting materials to help schools promote a healthy body image.
  • The National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC) is a collaboration of people and organisations with an expertise and/ or interest in the mental illness of eating disorders that form and evidence based 'voice' on eating disorders.

Where can I find the latest research on obesity and promoting healthy behaviours?

The VicHealth website has links to the latest research on a range of topics including obesity

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