Tackling Australia’s obesity problem: An interview with Rhonda Bacchi


We’ve talked about this topic a lot recently, and doubtless will again, but Australia’s obesity epidemic remains one of the single largest problems facing our nation’s collective health. With over 55 per cent of women and 70 per cent of men considered to be overweight, it’s very clear that something needs to change. How did we get to this stage? More importantly, what can we do about it?

As the number of Australians struggling with weight-related health issues continues to grow, it’s imperative that we find a new way to address the underlying problems causing this epidemic. The Certificate IV in Weight Management aims to do just this, providing an internationally recognised qualification within an industry that, incredibly, has been unregulated for decades. We sat down with Rhonda Bacchi, owner and founder of Onfit Training College, to discuss how the Certificate IV can help, and how we as a country have found ourselves in this position.

For many Australians, food is a coping mechanism.

Australia’s obesity epidemic

As Australia’s ranking amongst the world’s most overweight countries suggests, there’s far more to the country’s weight issues than simple bad habits. It’s very clear that the problem has intensified over the last few years, and Rhonda believes that the trend comes down to a massive shift in the way that we live our lives.

Compared to 10 or 20 years ago, our schedules today are unbelievably hectic. Thanks to smartphones, we live in a state of being always ‘on’, always contactable and always busy. As a result, many Australians have very little true downtime, with far higher levels of anxiety. What free time we do have is often spent trying to find diversions from everyday stresses through simple satisfactions such as unhealthy meals, or ‘comfort foods’. Of course, it’s also important to remember that we are very fortunate to live in a prosperous Western society. For most of us, this means that whatever we want is at our fingertips.

Have a bad day at work, and pizza can be at your door within the hour. As Rhonda puts it, “we turn to food, we get a little bit of pleasure and it takes our mind off of the pain, temporarily at least.” Food as a coping mechanism isn’t something that’s been widely discussed in Australia, and may well be the key to successful weight management where previous methods have failed. This is especially true if clients have the support of a qualified weight management practitioner or expert who can help them to realise the underlying reasons behind their obesity.

A new approach is needed, and it’s one that Rhonda describes as being “from the brain down, rather than the kilojoules up.”

Looking beyond nutrition and exercise

Rhonda points out that it’s often perceived that to lose weight all you need to do is eat well and exercise. This isn’t some sort of trade secret, but is often treated as such, and as the ‘be-all and end-all’ of health and wellbeing. This has been the rhetoric for some 50 years, but if we’re being honest, it simply hasn’t worked. A new approach is needed, and it’s one that Rhonda describes as being “from the brain down, rather than the kilojoules up.”

We all know that eating takeaway every night isn’t good for us, but the focus needs to shift to why some people continue to do so regardless of knowing this. This is where the Certificate IV in Weight Management comes in, taking a three-pronged approach that covers nutrition, exercise and psychology to help people not just lose weight, but make better decisions and change habits and thought patterns, for the long term. Once the ‘why’ has been worked out, it’s far more likely that the ‘how’ of losing weight will be successful.

Of course, it’s not just clients who can benefit from the expertise of the Certificate IV in Weight Management. The qualification provides PTs and other health professionals with a huge knowledge base, but it also helps them to structure and design their business in a way that is more flexible and versatile than simply providing help in the gym.

For more information, get in touch with Rhonda and the team at Onfit Training College today.