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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