Australians now the fattest on earth

August 15th, 2008 - 11:29 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Aug 15 (IANS) Australia has acquired the dubious distinction of being the fattest on earth - with four million people classified as obese and another 5.4 million as overweight. New research by Victoria University’s Erin Pearson shows that when it comes to changing people’s exercise behaviour, having the right messenger is as important as having the right message.

“What we have found is that the person delivering the message needs to be someone the audience identifies with and respects in order to bring about a desired change in behaviour,” Pearson said.

The study investigated intervention strategies designed to get sedentary women exercising and found that interventions based on women’s social identities were far more likely to be effective.

From a pool of 214 female volunteers, Pearson identified two groups whose social identities were based on the personality based self-characteristics - the ’strong’ and ‘independent’ group and the ’spiritual’ and ‘caring’ group.

A third control group was randomly selected. Women in all groups were aged 25 to 45 and spent less than 150 minutes per week exercising.

At the final evaluation after three months, only the women in the two social identity groups were found to have maintained the increased levels of exercise.

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