These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) are compiled by the State-wide Lighten Up to a Healthy Lifestyle Working Group, according to questions that have arisen from facilitators, from colleagues and referral sources, and from participants of the program.
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Why are we investing resources into group based programs?
Group behavioural intervention programs which achieve improvements in diet, physical activity and modest weight loss have been demonstrated to have substantial health benefits including reductions in blood pressure, blood lipids (eg, cholesterol), glucose sensitivity and risk of progression to diabetes.
Resources are being invested into this particular group based program because it has proven to be effective and efficient in helping participants to achieve healthier behaviour and modest levels of weight loss. The program is based on evidence-based practice and thereby, using this State-wide ensures consistency with these evidence-based guidelines. As well, the program provides ongoing support for participants.
How do we know it works?
Lighten Up was developed by a range of health professionals based on best practice for behaviour change and long-term weight management and continues to be funded by Queensland Health. The program is run by health professionals who have undergone special training to be Lighten Up facilitators.
The results of State-wide evaluation show that Lighten Up is successful in improving eating habits; physical activity habits; self esteem; and weight status (both in terms of weight loss, and decreasing waist circumference); as well as decreasing overall risk of chronic disease. For more detailed information on these results, see the Evaluation of the Lighten Up to a Healthy Lifestyle program, 2004.
How can I refer someone to the Lighten Up program?
Contact the Community Centre / location closest to you. Participants to the program are accepted via referrals from health professionals (both internal and external to Queensland Health) and in most districts from self-referred individuals as well.
Is there a BMI cut off range for entry into the program?
As Lighten Up is a healthy lifestyle group program there is no cut off for BMI for entry into the program, however some districts have built a most appropriate BMI into their referral system.
Can mental health clients attend?
All participants need to be able to interact in a group environment, so if appropriate mental health clients are more than welcome to attend. Some Districts have Lighten Up programs which specifically cater for mental health clients.
Is there a cost involved?
In Queensland Health facilities the program fee generally ranges from $15-$50. This covers payment for the participant's workbook ($11) and the extra is put towards other things such as catering for morning or afternoon tea, venue hire if Queensland Health venues are not available etc.
How long does the program run for and what topics are covered during the program?
The program runs for a period of nine to ten weeks. It includes seven workshop sessions + a minimum of two screening sessions (one at the beginning, one at the end of the program). The seven workshop sessions include:
Why aren't we running Lighten Up programs for children or adolescents?
The Lighten Up program has been developed for adults according to the evidence on adult behaviour change methodologies. Research suggests that different behaviour change methodologies, different settings and delivery approaches would be required to reach children and adolescents.
Children and adolescents need good nutrition to develop and grow to their full potential. Children and adolescents are learning behaviours, skills, knowledge and attitudes about food and physical activity which will influence their health throughout their lives. Treatment for overweight and obese children and adolescents needs to be medically supervised and include support and encouragement from family and friends for healthy eating and a more active lifestyle.
Some components of the program are suitable for children and adolescents as they deal with general healthy lifestyle behaviours. They can be applied to the whole family.