Healthy Children, Healthy Future Forum

Let’s Talk with the Experts!

Almost two-thirds of Australian adults and one in four children are overweight or obese. 

In collaboration with Western Sydney Diabetes, community group Healthy Living Toongabbie (HLT) is holding an online forum to address concerns with weight in young people. 

 According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, excess weight is responsible for 7200 deaths each year in Australia and obesity costs the Australian economy $38 billion a year, through more than four million days lost from work, over $1 billion in medical costs, as well as the cost of premature death.

The forum, called ‘Healthy Children for a Healthy Future: Let’s Talk with the Experts!’ is on Thursday, July 7 at 6.30pm on Zoom and Facebook Live.

HLT is a community-based organisation dedicated to educating the community about diabetes, pre-diabetes and healthier food options.

Associate Professor Gary Leong is one of the guest speakers. He is the author of award-winning book Ride to Life: a no-nonsense program for breaking your family’s cycle of obesity and connecting to a healthier, happier life.

It was formed four years ago by a group of passionate Toongabbie health practitioners, business people and residents concerned at the high number of residents in their community with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes.

HLT President Shanthini Seelan, a GP at Bridgeview Medical Centre in Toongabbie, said HLT is focused on improving type 2 diabetes awareness in the community, a chronic disease but one of the many risk factors across all age groups is weight gain.

“Promoting awareness of healthy weight issues among children will benefit both parents and children because diabetes is no longer an age-related condition,” Dr Seelan said.

“It’s now becoming more common in adolescents and the middle age groups. The risk of complications are much higher due to the early onset.

“If we are to tackle the multiple chronic diseases that will result from being overweight and obese – it’s best to start as early as possible.” 

Expert panellists include:

Associate Professor Gary Leong: Senior Paediatric Endocrinologist, Clinical Paediatric Lead of the Paediatric Diabetes and the Nepean Blue Mountains Metabolic Health Services, Nepean Hospital. Kingswood and Charles Perkins Centre, Nepean Research Hub, The University of Sydney. He will discuss ‘Is your child overweight and at risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease of other complications?’.

Simran Grover: Accredited Practising Dietitian, Accredited Nutritionist and Credentialed Diabetes Educator, will discuss ‘Paradigm shift of healthy eating in children and parental role: Dietitian Perspective’;

Dr Thava Seelan: HLT member and GP at Bridgeview Medical Centre,Toongabbie. He will discuss ‘Challenges in GP land in addressing Childhood obesity’; and

Dean Paningbatan: Paediatric Diabetes Dietitian (Institute of Diabetes & Endocrinology, The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, Westmead), Accredited Sports Dietitian and Exercise Physiologist. He will discuss ‘Taking healthy steps: what meaningful actions can we do today?’.

There will also be a Q&A panel discussion, joined by The Hills Mayor Dr Peter Gangemi and a Cumberland Council representative.

“The forum is an exciting opportunity that will provide the foundations to support our younger generation on their health journey and hopefully turn the tide on the obesity crisis facing western Sydney,” Mayor Gangemi said. “Let’s start the conversation today and take the steps to a healthier future.”

Details: 6.30pm-8pm, Thursday, July 7, 2022.

Join live on Facebook Live or Zoom. Click the Zoom link below to join the webinar:

Passcode: 470962

Or join on Facebook Live:

For more information, visit

Media inquiries: eEngagement and Education Manager, Heloise Tolar, or 0417 872 245.