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Image: Diabetes New Zealand

Sam walks the walk for fitness

March 25, 2016
Black Sticks star Charlton raise awareness of the dangers of obesity through the FABruary movement

Black Sticks defender Sam Charlton stepped up to the challenge of fighting obesity by signing up as a FABruary ambassador.

Charlton, who at just 25 has made more than 150 appearances for New Zealand’s women, is among a group of New Zealand sports stars who have joined forces to help raise awareness of the dangers of obesity and its associated by-product, type 2 diabetes.

The FABruary movement - FAB means Fight Against Bulge - started in Australia, but its New Zealand counterpart was founded by former New Zealand and Warriors rugby league representative Clinton Toopi. Other sports stars putting their names to the campaign include: rugby league player Ali Lauitiiti, rugby and sevens star DJ Forbes, former Warriors player Jerome Ropati and rugby union icon Malakai Fekitoa, a member of the All Blacks team that emerged triumphant at the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.

This year’s FABruary campaign saw the ambassadors working hard throughout the month of February to help shine the spotlight on nutrition, exercise and lifestyle with the aim to encourage people to make healthier choices. Among their activities, the sports stars took part in an online fitness challenge, using Fitbit devices to track their steps and activities. As you would expect from a group of sports stars taking up a challenge, it all became very competitive.

In the race to record the most steps, hockey star Charlton was one of the frontrunners. As she stormed into the lead, one of the competitors sent the following message to her: “Wow, Sam ... what were you doing in the weekend? Some of us are going to have to do about 60,000 steps to catch up but DJ is still in the chase, that's for sure! This is going to be a walking week with only eight days of February left!”

As well as logging their steps and ensuring they walked a minimum of 10,000 steps every day, the group also pledged to give up their favourite treats for the whole of February. They also made other incidental improvements to their health such as taking the stairs rather than the elevator and, rather than driving, opting to either walk or cycle to work, training or college.

While the challenge was an entertaining way to highlight the dangers of obesity and the importance of both eating well and exercising regularly, there is no escaping the fact that it is a very real problem in New Zealand. Current statistics indicate that as many as 31 per cent of all New Zealanders are obese, with a further 35 per cent registering as overweight. This means New Zealand has the third highest adult obesity rate among developed countries.

Charlton, who has a tertiary qualification in nutrition, said it’s hugely important for all New Zealanders to be conscious of what they are putting into their bodies.

“Making healthier choices in what we are eating and drinking, along with being active can make a huge difference on rates of obesity and especially the prevalence of type 2 diabetes,” she said.

“Sugar in particular is an increasing issue and you would be surprised by the amount of sugar that we consume from food and drink. Even cutting out soft drinks for a month will lead to massive health benefits.”

As part of her commitment to FABruary, Sam has pledged to:

    •    Eliminate unhealthy fast food and takeaways, white carbohydrates, sweets, confectionary and sugary condiments
    •    Eliminate bottled fruit juices, soft drinks, beer and wine, energy drinks, sports drinks and milkshakes
    •    Go for a brisk walk before breakfast on an empty stomach, increase incidental exercise, and increase outdoor activities with family, friends or colleagues

To see more about the FABruary campaign click here.

A project such as FABruary is the perfect vehicle for a sports star such as Samantha Charlton to influence her supporters and followers. It is an initiative that very much aligns with the FIH's 10-year strategy - the Hockey Revolution, whose overall aim is to inspire the next generation. To find out more about this strategy, click here.

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