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Call to ban junk food from schools, sporting venues and even prime time TV!

One hundred nutrition experts from 53 organisations are working with state and federal bureaucrats to draft an obesity action plan to control the nation’s weight problem that is costing $56 billion a year, reports Herald Sun.

The review of state and federal food labelling, advertising and health policies found huge variation across the country and experts want it corrected by a National Nutrition Policy.

The nation is in the grip of an obesity crisis with almost two out of three (63 per cent) Australian adults, and one in four (25 per cent) Australian children overweight or obese.

Half of all Australians are exceeding World Health Organisation’s recommendations they consume less than 13 teaspoons or sugar a day with most of the white stuff hidden in drinks and processed food, the Australian Bureau of Statistics Health Survey shows.

Teenage boys are the worst offenders consuming 38 teaspoons of sugar a day which makes up a quarter of their entire calorie intake.

Dr Gary Sacks from Deakin University says it’s time for politicians to put the interests of ordinary people and their health above the food industry lobbyists.

“It’s a good start to have policies for restricting junk foods in school canteens, but if kids are then inundated with unhealthy foods at sports venues, and they see relentless junk food ads on prime-time TV, it doesn’t make it easy for them to eat well,” he said.

That’s why the experts want a co-ordinated national strategy that increases the price of unhealthy food using taxes and regulations to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising.

While all States and Territories have policies for healthy school food provision they are not all monitored and supported, the experts say.

Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition and a partner in the research, said a piecemeal approach would not work to turn the tide of obesity in Australia.

“When nearly two-thirds of Australians are overweight or obese, we know that it’s not just about individuals choosing too many of the wrong foods, there are strong environmental factors at play – such as the all pervasive marketing of junk food particularly to children,” she said.

Australian politicians have repeatedly dismissed a sugar tax on the grounds it interferes with individual rights.

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  • BUT it is not the food that is all the problem! kids don’t move enough anymore! they eat more and sit more! We pretty much all grew up with junk foods (probably with way higher sugar contents) and the main difference was that we didn’t get to watch tv ALL afternoon and we didn’t have internet and devices! We would run around and climb trees and ride bikes and basically spend hours outside! We would walk to school or the bus. We would walk around the school at lunch times instead of sitting and playing with our phones.

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  • I think this is going a bit too far. If schools and sporting venues don’t supply junk, those that wish to eat it will just take their own.

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  • I feel the main reason we are becoming a world of over weight lumps is because in this day and age we have way tooo many choices and brands of certain foods. Way tooo many processed foods. I think back to when I was a child and seriously I can not remember seeing such a thing as a muesli bar in a supermarket. Then again we never had the huge supermarkets like we have today. My mum and dad did a weekly shop at a small store (yes in that day a supermarket) but they bought basic ingredients and food items and mum would cook from scratch. Make slices or cakes etc. now a days many tend to just buy a packet cake mix or worst a cake from the bakery section of the supermarket and it is here that all the sugar is piled in.
    Growing up at school I occasionally would order a meat pie and this would also accompany a chocolate biscuit. We also would order a cream bun and it never seems to hurt (HEALTH WISE) any student.
    Its the highly processed, sugar laden foods of today’s society that are the offending culprits and we need to limit them.


    • oopps that should have read SEEMED .



      • I also remember a lunch order which could be a pie or sausage roll as a once in a while treat. It came with a jam doughnut.

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  • If parents don’t want their children to have junk food at school canteens, they have the choice not to order it. As long as there is a lot of healthy alternatives a small amount of “junk food” should also be available.

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  • Families, parents and children need to make choices for themselves. Provide plenty of education for people to make choices regarding healthy lifestyle. Prohibition of food and drink never seems to work, it can make these items more appealing.

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  • Yes I think it’s concerning and agree with banning junk from schools, sports venues and tv. And it would be great indeed if the price of junk food would go up and the price of health food would come down !
    But I don’t think we can blame it all on schools, sport venues and adverts. It all start at home: what do we teach our kids to eat and what do we eat ourselves ?!

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  • I agree – it all starts at home. The only ones it will affect are the children’s sports clubs who rely on the canteen as a fundraiser. People will opt to not buy from the canteen but to head straight to Maccas etc on the way home. It is like saying the govt should ban fast food shops, what supermarkets put on the shelves and the list goes on – simply not achievable and there would be an uproar!

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  • This seems very sensible. Kids find it hard to make good decisions without help.

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  • Yes, I agree – ban junk food – things that are promoted to children on TV, close to checkouts etc.
    Some schools actually randomly check childrens’ lunch boxes and parents do receive notes.
    However they are going to have to take into account any food intolerances – dairy, fructose intolerance (the sugar in fruit – and a few vegetables), food containing wheat, barely, rye or oats. eggs….are a few. Most schools are now nut free. Some parents go to the effort of making muffins or slices using gluten free flour and depending on other allergies may put vegetables, fruit or whatever they can eat in them. The same applies to quiche, vegetable slices or pizza. The Mums who make special food are fussy what they put in them. Their food is going to look different to healthy food other children can eat. Some don’t like and refuse to eat gluten free or other special dietary needs breads etc.. THe same problem relates to things such as genuinely healthy Muesli Bars(there is a couple of brands that have low sugar and salt content) but not eveybody is able to eat them for health reasons.

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  • I also agree with it all starts at home. Kids learn good healthy eating from their parents and if the parents don’t eat healthy then neither will the kids. Having money to spend at the school canteen only a few times a year was a treat for us. Kids shouldn’t be given money all the time to spend there, it should be used as a treat once every now and then

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  • Healthy lifestyles get taught at home by eating healthily there. People can’t be kept in cotton wool all their lives, they have to take responsibility and say no to the bad foods and drinks.

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  • Banning junk food from schools would be a positive move.

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  • I support a healthy lifestyle but I think they are going about things the wrong way. I also think a healthy living starts from home.

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  • I do think this is a societal issue but surely the buck stops at home with parents/family. Banning things means people often go about getting them in an underhand or dishonest way. I’d rather be away that my son is eating junk food in moderation, rather than thinking he’s sneaking it when I’m not around. Maybe our regulations need to be on sizing of portions and upsizing options, etc. Things were so much easier when I was younger – less options, less temptation. Now everything is bigger, taller, upgraded, multiple offers eg. cheaper to buy 2 or 3 when you only want 1. There’s many to blame.

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