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New course aims to help reduce Australia's fastest growing health problem


Brigid Veale
30 June 2005
A new on-line Graduate Certificate course to be offered by Southern Cross University (SCU) later this year is designed to help health professionals reduce the rapidly growing incidence of 'metabolic syndrome' in Australia.

Metabolic syndrome, refers to a cluster of problems, based around obesity, now suffered by almost one in three Australians. This consists of abdominal obesity, and two out of four metabolic risk factors influenced by lifestyle (High HDL Cholesterol, Low HDL, raised blood pressure and raised fasting plasma glucose).

Metabolic syndrome was recently identified by the International Diabetes Federation as one of the biggest potential health problems of our time. The syndrome, and components of it, are almost totally preventable. Hence calls are being made for training to reduce the big cost blow-outs that are already occurring from end-point diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and several forms of cancer.

Southern Cross University has co-opted Sydney-based health promotion consultant Professor Garry Egger to develop a post-graduate program in Applied Health Promotion to help manage this.

The course includes units in Strategies and Methods in Health Promotion as well as Obesity and Weight Control and Social Marketing. Dr Egger, who is probably best known for developing the men's GutBuster's 'Waist Loss' program in the 1990s, says the course will provide the tools for existing health professionals to practice prevention at both a clinical and public health level.

"There is a lot of frustration amongst health professionals about how to deal with the 70 per cent of modern disease cases that have a lifestyle-based cause," said Dr Egger, who has also run independent training programs in the area for more than 5000 Australian GPs, nutritionists and exercise specialists since 1998.

"This is one of the first courses to give clinicians and field workers, the applied skills to build fences at the top of the cliff rather than use ambulances at the bottom."

Skills to be learned include health advertising, group processes, media methods and advocacy, clinical lifestyle counselling, community processes and environmental modification techniques. Non-degree units and short courses in social marketing and obesity management will also be on offer for first trimester of 2006.

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