CHIP program and ‘lifestyle’ diseases

Twenty-five Indigenous Australians recently took part in a study in remote communities in Port Augusta, South Australia and Drouin, Victoria. The Australian Government-funded study investigated whether the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP), which promotes a plant-based diet and regular exercise, would help participants to lose excess body weight and reduce other risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-Indigenous Australians, and are six times more likely to die from the condition than non-Indigenous Australians. CHIP was chosen for this study because it has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of chronic (long-lasting) lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes by encouraging the adoption of better health habits.

The seven men and 18 women, aged between 25 and 70, were able to stay in their own community for the duration of the trial, unlike previous studies which isolated participants from their normal surroundings.

The results were remarkable: in just four weeks, the two groups lost an average of 3.1kg each, a reduction of 3.5 per cent. Those who started with very high blood sugar levels – putting them at greater risk of type 2 diabetes – saw a dramatic drop in blood sugar and lost even more weight.

Co-author of the study report, Paul Rankin, said: “We’re very excited about the outcomes that were achieved through CHIP. We would now like to see a more widespread study with an extended follow-up to look at the long-term effects, sustainability and cost-effectiveness of community-based lifestyle interventions.”

Part of the Sanitarium group, CHIP has a community focus, with participants in local groups meeting regularly to keep each other on track. Since it was founded in 1988, CHIP has gone from strength to strength worldwide and has received glowing testimonials in Australasia and around the globe from individual and corporate clients, health professionals and medical associations.

More information about CHIP and how to join a program


  1. Rankin P, Morton D, Kent L, Mitchell B (2016) A community-based lifestyle intervention targeting Type II Diabetes risk factors in an Australian Aboriginal population: a feasibility study. Australian Indigenous Health Bulletin 16(3)

  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014) Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey: updated results, 2012–13. (ABS Catalogue no. 4727.0.55.006) Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics

  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014) Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey: biomedical results, 2012-13. (ABS Catalogue no 4727.0.55.003) Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics

  4. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) Causes of death, Australia, 2013. (ABS Catalogue no 3303.0) Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics