First graphic obesity TV campaign launched in Victoria

Sunday 17 August, 2014

Victorians will come face-to-face with the health impacts of ‘toxic fat' as the state's first ever, hard-hitting campaign about the risks of being overweight or obese is launched today.

Cancer Council Victoria, in partnership with the Heart Foundation, with funding from the Victorian State Government will be delivering the mass media LiveLighter campaign which will air on TV across the state from tonight.

The public education campaign, announced today by the Minister for Health, Hon David Davis, graphically portrays the damage unhealthy weight, poor diet and physical inactivity can cause to internal organs.

The hard-hitting ‘toxic fat' advert takes people inside their own bodies, showing the toxic build-up of visceral fat, which can dramatically increase the risk of developing serious health conditions.

The campaign has been designed to inform, encourage change and trigger fresh debate about obesity, chronic disease prevention and healthy lifestyle related issues. It is a critical element of the state government's prevention system, Healthy Together Victoria.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper, acknowledged the campaign was confronting but said so was the fact that nearly two-thirds of Victorians were overweight or obese.

"While talking about weight is a sensitive issue, we can't shy away from the health impacts – we are eating ourselves to an early grave. In Victoria, three in five adults are overweight or obese increasing their risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer – along with a range of other health problems."

This campaign aims to explain why fat around your waist and visceral fat around your internal organs is bad for your overall health, but it also provides plenty of practical tips, tools and resources that show how to maintain a healthy weight.

"The state government and local councils are already undertaking considerable work through Healthy Together Victoria to support communities to create healthier environments where we live, learn, work and play. It is hoped this campaign will act as a powerful motivator encouraging Victorians to act now and reminding them that it's never too late to make positive lifestyle changes," Mr Harper said.

LiveLighter was funded by the Department of Health in Western Australia and developed by the Heart Foundation WA in partnership with Cancer Council of WA and has been implemented in WA since 2012.

"The results of this campaign are proven. Evaluation from the WA campaign shows that the campaign reached and resonated with those most at risk of weight-related chronic disease," Mr Harper said.

Heart Foundation Victoria CEO Diana Heggie said helping Victorians achieve and maintain a healthy weight needs to be a priority.

"Overweight and obesity is now one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease in our community and carrying the extra kilos greatly increases your risk of chronic diseases," Ms Heggie said.

"Everyone knows that it's important to eat a balanced diet and be active, but many of us struggle to achieve this healthier lifestyle. The reality is that small, easy changes really do add up to make a big difference to your health," Ms Heggie said.

The LiveLighter campaign is supported by a comprehensive, easy-to-use website, providing a wealth of information, resources and tools including an online meal and activity planner featuring healthy recipes that are easy to make.

About two years ago, Victorian father Bruce Thompson, experienced problems with his back, which required surgery and three months off work.

"That was a big wake up call for me spending three months in bed and not being able to play with my kids. I decided I needed to get fit and lose weight if I was going to be able to enjoy mucking around with the kids. By cutting out snacking and choosing healthier foods combined with regular exercise, I lost 15 kilos. My advice to others is simple. Stop making excuses and start making small changes to see a big difference!"

The ‘toxic fat' advert will be combined with advertisements about how to make small lifestyle changes to start living lighter. The Victorian campaign will feature on commercial television, newspapers, radio, outdoor, cinema and online across the state. The Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer at Cancer Council Victoria will evaluate the campaign. LiveLighter is funded until June 2015.


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LiveLighter Facts

  • Victorians continue to suffer from high levels of overweight and obesity.
  • In Victoria one in four adults are obese and three in five adults are overweight or obese. [1]
  • The average Victorian male is 8.5kg overweight while the average Victorian female is 5kg overweight. [2]
  • Research shows that around 57 per cent of Victorian adults are not sufficiently active for good health. [3]
  • Poor diet followed by overweight and obesity has overtaken tobacco as the leading cause of disability and disease among Australians. [4]
  • In 2008, Access Economics estimated that obesity cost Victoria $485 million in direct health care costs, and $899 million in lost production. Victorians also lost the equivalent of 50,000 years of healthy life each year, to obesity-related diseases, mainly diabetes and ischemic heart disease. [5]
  • Victorians experience high rates of chronic disease. Rates of diagnosed diabetes in Victoria have increased dramatically in the last decade, more than doubling from 2% in 2001 to 4.5% in 2011. [6] Australia-wide, it is estimated that every day 280 Australians develop diabetes, and that 3.3 million Australians will have diabetes by 2031. [7]
  • There is a socio-economic gradient with higher rates of overweight and obesity in groups with higher levels of disadvantage. In Victoria, outer-suburban and regional areas experience the highest levels of overweight and obesity, as well as communities of low socio-economic status (SES).[8]


  1. ABS, Australian Health Survey, 2011–12
  2. ABS, Australian Health Survey, 2011–12
  3. ABS, Australian Health Survey, 2011–12
  4. Global burden of diseases, injuries and risk factors study 2010. 
  5. The growing cost of obesity in 2008: three years on (2008) Access Economics, Australia, as cited by The Centre of Excellence in Intervention and Prevention Science (CEIPS) (January 2012) ‘What does obesity cost Victoria?' Journal Club 202.
  6. Diabetes Australia - Victoria Diabetes Epidemic – 10 years on (2011) website: 
  7. Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. Diabetes: the silent pandemic and its impact on Australia. 2012.
  8. King T et al (2006) ‘Weight and place: a multilevel cross-sectional survey of area-level social disadvantage and overweight/obesity in Australia 30 International Journal of Obesity 2, 281.