IT was only two years ago that Rockhampton's Geoff Major was 140kg and facing an early death after being diagnosed as a diabetic.
But rather than giving up, he took the diagnosis as a wake-up call and sought help to turn his life around and is now living a healthier life after shedding more than 60kg.
While he had started to make inroads after discovering the nature of his condition, things dramatically changed for Geoff when he joined Bidgerdii Aboriginal and Torres Straight Community Health Service's Closing the Gap-Rocky Way program.
The program treats indigenous Australians by targeting unhealthy lifestyles and offering support and advice on how they can live a healthier life.
Although it has only been offered for the past seven months, Bidgerii Community Health Service chief executive Poy Pensio said it had proven a success for a large number of their clients.
Mr Pensio said one of the reasons it had been so successful was that the program treated families as well as individuals.
"It is important that whole families are given support to change their lifestyle because there is no point in just treating an individual if they live in an environment that encourages those bad habits," he said.
"What we are trying to do is change the mindset of the wider indigenous community and get them to take their health seriously, because the biggest issue is a lot of them will not seek help until things get too bad."
Geoff Major was one of those people, but under his strict diet and regular consultations with the Bidgerdii staff, he has now living a much healthier and happier life.
"It's important not only to have access to the information about controlling your diet, but also to have that support from people like the staff here," he said.
"I lived really badly for a long time, but I've managed to cut out a lot of the bad stuff in my diet and I've lost about 60 kilos and feeling a lot better these days."
Closing The Gap
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons have a much lower life expectancy than non-indigenous Australians with a difference of around 17 years.
On average, indigenous men have a life expectancy of 59.4 years and 64.8 for women.
80% of life expectancy gap attributed to chronic diseases such as heart disease (22%), diabetes (12%) and liver disease (11%).
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