The regional battle of the bulge is stepping thanks to The Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust's vision.

It wants to establish a world class sports and recreational hub and community health centre at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park.

The need for it is clear. Hawke's Bay District Health Board (HBDHB) director of population health Dr Caroline McElnay's Health Equity in Hawke's Bay report highlighted the growing need for programmes to address growing needs.

It found two out of three adults overweight or obese. With Maori it was one in two and Pasifika two out of three.


Obesity is increases a person's risk of dying young but Ms McElnay said ingrained health behaviours, social and economic factors would not be easy to turn around.

When she presented her report to the HBDHB board it challenged management to present strategies to close health inequities.

Last weeks' memorandum of understanding between the trust and HBDHB is a leap in the right direction. Through a Centre for Excellence in Human Performance all age groups will have access to best-practice programmes.

HBDHB chair Kevin Atkinson said the chance to have a Hawke's Bay extension of Sir Graeme Avery-founded Auckland's AUT Millennium's proven programmes was what piqued his interest.

"The key thing for me is the relationship between the DHB, EIT and AUT Millennium actually having very robust research programmes," he said.

Collaborative working groups of professionals from all organisations will lead the development of Hawke's Bay programmes on research-based healthy eating and active recreation.

"The sharing of information would be vital to providing programmes to make a difference.

"I'm very excited about this development and the difference it will make to Hawke's Bay."

Some programmes will be delivered off-site at pre-schools, primary and secondary schools and community recreation centres, including Waipukurau and Wairoa.

The Sports Park facility will include an indoor sports and recreation hall, strength and conditioning gym for sports and wellness development, community health and fitness gym, sprint track, pole vault dome, fitness trail, wellness tutorial rooms, a sports medicine centre and an on-site accommodation lodge.

It will also include facilities so the region's top athletes won't be lost to other regions and talent could be fostered.

"A lot of people have the perception that Sir Graeme wants to develop an elite sports facility at the Sports Park but that is really only 10 per cent of it." Mr Atkinson said.

"Improving the health and wellbeing of our community is a key focus for the HBDHB. The facilities the Trust are proposing to develop will help us deliver the population health objectives we have set for the region."