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Mangere Methodist Church ‘swaps 2 win’ healthier lifestyles

Hungry for a healthier lifestyle, Mangere Methodist Church is taking an inspirational journey to health.

The congregation of 140 people is at the forefront of the Let’s Beat Diabetes (LBD) LotuMoui health programme run by Counties Manukau District Health Board. The church’s Health Committee run aerobics classes, organise walking groups, and have guest speakers on topics from healthy cooking through to smoking, alcohol and drugs.

By making a number of small changes, they have made a big difference. At church events, they have changed to healthy food and have decreased the amount of food provided – in fact they have removed one whole table! So, as well as encouraging people to eat less, they are also saving money.

Convenor of the Mangere congregation’s health committee Tunumafono Aufata Aufata, says that all the health programmes look at healthy eating and exercise.

“Living life to the full is about having a fulfilling spiritual and physical life. For us this means not only being healthy in the spirit but also in the mind and body. Together we are supporting each other to be healthy, active, wholesome and prosperous.”

“We have a big focus on educating and involving our young people, because they are the adults of tomorrow. It is the young people who are the instructors for the aerobics classes,” Tunumafono says.

Mangere Methodist is one of the stars of LBD’s current Swap2Win campaign in Counties Manukau. The purpose of the Swap2Win campaign is to promote healthy lifestyles and to promote the need for collective community action to stop obesity. Tips about how to swap to healthier diets and more active lifestyles are promoted across local press and radio, as well as inspirational stories of action by local groups in Counties Manukau.

Programme manager for the DHB’s Pasefika LotuMoui Health Programme Rachael Lila says obesity is a serious issue because it is a major risk factor for diabetes as well. Pacific Communities are highly affected by one or both of these chronic diseases.

"Together we must now turn our vision of health and prosperity for Pacific people into action," Rachel says. “Mangere Methodist Church has been one of the leading churches in our Pasefika LotuMoui Programme. Their achievements have been inspirational and life changing to our local Pacific community.

The message the Swap 2 Win campaign teaches is that if you eat more food than you burn up in your daily activity, you will put on too much weight. There are four things you can do to change this: Swap 2 being more active; Eating more food than you burn up in your daily activity means you will put on too much weight. There are four things you can do to change this: Swap 2 being more active, Swap 2 low-sugar options, Swap 2 low-fat foods, and Swap 2 smaller portions.

Among the other community initiatives in the programme are a marae that is swapping blue milk for lower fat light blue milk, a school that is swapping sugary drinks for water, and the staff of a retail shop that is changing heavy lunches for light food and exercise.

For ideas and information about how to Swap2Win visit www.swap2win.co.nz.