Call for action on obesity to save Aussie lives

Thirty-six leading community, public health, medical and academic groups have today united for the first time to call for urgent Federal Government action to address Australia’s serious obesity problem.

In the ground-breaking new action plan, Tipping the Scales, the agencies, led by the Obesity Policy Coalition and Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre, identify eight practical actions:

  1. Time-based restrictions on TV junk food advertising to kids
  2. Set clear food reformulation targets
  3. Make the Health Star Rating mandatory by July 2019
  4. Develop a national active transport strategy
  5. Fund weight-related public education campaigns
  6. Introduce a 20% health levy on sugary drinks
  7. Establish a national obesity taskforce
  8. Develop and monitor national diet, physical activity and weight guidelines.

These policies aim to not only reduce morbidity and mortality, but also improve wellbeing, bring vital benefits to the economy and set Australians up for a healthier future.

OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin said the eight definitive policy actions in Tipping the Scales addressed the elements of Australia’s environment which set individuals and families up for unhealthy lifestyles, rather than just focusing on treating the poor health outcomes associated with obesity.

“Sixty-three per cent of Australian adults and 27 per cent of our children are overweight or obese. This is not surprising when you look at our environment – our kids are bombarded with advertising for junk food, high-sugar drinks are cheaper than water, and sugar and saturated fat are hiding in so-called ‘healthy’ foods. Making a healthy choice has never been more difficult,” Ms Martin said.

“The annual cost of overweight and obesity in Australia in 2011-12 was estimated to be $8.6 billion in direct and indirect costs such as GP services, hospital care, absenteeism and government subsidies. But Australia still has no strategy to tackle our obesity problem. It just doesn’t make sense.”

“Without action, the costs of obesity and poor diet to society will only continue to spiral upwards. The policies we have set out to tackle obesity therefore aim to not only reduce morbidity and mortality, but also improve wellbeing, bring vital benefits to the economy and set Australians up for a healthier future.”

Obesity poses such an immense threat to Australia’s physical and economic health that it needs its own, standalone prevention strategy if progress is to be made.

These are policies which have been proven to work in other parts of the world and have the potential to work here, but they need to be implemented as part of a comprehensive approach by governments. And they need to be implemented now.

Learn more at www.opc.org.au/tipping-the-scales.aspx or join the push on social media via #TippingtheScales

The calls to action outlined in Tipping the Scales are endorsed by the following organisations: Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (which includes the Heart Foundation, Cancer Council Australia, Kidney Health Australia, Diabetes Australia and the Stroke Foundation), Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC), Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS), Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine, Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute, CHOICE, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE), Institute For Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Monash Centre for Health, Research and Implementation (MCHRI), LiveLighter, Menzies School of Health Research, The University of Melbourne’s Melbourne School of Population & Global Health, Melbourne Children’s (which includes The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne), the National Rural Health Alliance Inc, Nutrition Australia, Obesity Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Obesity Surgery Society of Australia & New Zealand, Parents’ Voice, Public Health Association of Australia and Sugar By Half.

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