Prime Minister Julia Gillard has unveiled a new agency aimed at making Australia the healthiest nation by 2020.

The National Preventative Health Agency already has the backing of health professionals and the government hopes Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, a fitness fanatic, will get behind the agency as well.

Katherine Browning reports.

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The Preventative Health Agency will seek to avoid diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices.

The aim is to promote a healthier population and ease pressure on hospitals and the health care system.

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “It makes sense to treat people, to keep them well, before they need more expensive care in hospital.”

Ms Gillard says chronic disease, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, account for a major proportion of Australia’s health care expenditure.

These diseases share similar risk factors, including smoking, low levels of exercise and rising levels of obesity.

The agency will disseminate information in schools, workplaces and the wider community, enshrining healthy habits as a way of life.

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “We want to make sure that every day Australians have the opportunity to hear the message and to take some personal action to improve their own health.”

Nicola Roxon, Health Minister: “One, making people happier and healthier as the Prime Minister has said, but two, enabling our health system to run more effectively and to be sustainable into the future.”

The agency is part of the government’s plan to make Australia the healthiest nation by 2020.

Katherine Browning, QUT News.