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2nd July 2024 Country Health

From fat to fit: Sowing the seeds for rural health

FatFarmers website 2

Boosting the physical and mental health of rural communities is the focus of a new partnership between grassroots health initiative Fat Farmers and The Hospital Research Foundation Group.

The Hospital Research Foundation Group has come on board as Fat Farmers’ Major Health Partner, to help the life-changing program expand into more towns and encourage exercise and social connection amongst isolated farmers.

Fat Farmers is a farmer-led initiative founded on the Yorke Peninsula 12 years ago when three 40-something farmers joked they were getting ‘fat’ once their footy careers ended.

Since then, the fitness venture has grown to be in 18 towns across South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria with about 150 participants – meeting a huge need in boosting rural health amongst men in particular.

The tongue-in-cheek Fat Farmers accept all people regardless of whether they are ‘fat’, thin, or just needing additional motivation to get active. The offerings in each town differ, with some groups doing regular gym workouts or others getting together for a run.

By teaming up with The Hospital Research Foundation Group, the passionate volunteers are looking to get into more towns and expand their impact across more communities.

Co-founder Ben Wundersitz said Fat Farmers had received exceptional feedback from participants since it started, with many new joiners saying it completely turned their lives around.

“We are a group that was established by farmers, for farmers, and it’s been surprising to see how much exercise benefits your mental health as well,” Ben said.

“We’re a bit quirky, we have fun and don’t take ourselves too seriously. It’s all about community, connection and living a better lifestyle, particularly for blokes but we accept everyone.

“The Hospital Research Foundation Group is passionate about improving health and wellbeing and they have recognised the potential of our group, which is quite humbling to be honest considering our modest beginnings.

“If anyone is interested in starting a Fat Farmers group in their town, please reach out to us and we can help you.”

Paul Flynn, CEO of The Hospital Research Foundation Group, said the two-year partnership was all about improving health in country areas.

“It’s no secret that regional communities have poorer health outcomes due to reduced access to GPs, services and delays in care,” Paul said.

“If we can get in at the prevention stage, helping people to live a healthier lifestyle and be active, then we’re one step closer to improving the overall health of regional communities.

“Fat Farmers is a great vehicle to improve not only physical health, but mental health and wellbeing. Men don’t always have to catch up at the pub, we can flip that idea on its head and set a great example for the next generation.”

If you’re interested in starting a Fat Farmers group in your town, learn more at or call 0436 281 875.

Current groups are located at:
Port Lincoln
Vivonne Bay
Stokes Bay
Mount Gambier
Moama (NSW)
Lismore (Vic)