The National Rural Health Alliance has welcomed the report by the Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry into the national obesity epidemic, which has accepted most of the Alliance recommendations to provide solutions to this Australia-wide problem.
The Alliance noted the committee’s response to submissions, which claimed no one strategy could address the obesity issue.
Director, Policy and Strategy Development, Dr Jo Walker stressed any solutions must be a mix of “top down – bottom up” approaches such as government interventions such as development of a National Obesity Strategy and the introduction of a 20% sugar tax on sweetened beverages and legislating of discretionary food and community led activities at the grass roots.
“The Alliance is pleased to see that the senate committee has adopted recommendations made by the Alliance, particularly recognition of food security issues. People living in the bush may have fewer healthy food choices and what is available can be expensive,” she said.
The Alliance also welcomed the committee’s recommendation to provide incentives and initiatives to increase access, affordability and consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Other recommendations the Alliance supports include:
- National Obesity Strategy and a National Obesity Taskforce;
- Mandatory food labelling of added sugar on packaged food and drinks;
- Introduction of a 20% sugar tax on sugar sweetened beverages;
- The Health Star Rating system to be made mandatory by 2020; and
- Legislating to restrict discretionary food and drink advertising on free-to air television until 9.00pm.
Dr Walker said the recommendation for the National Obesity Taskforce to develop a National Physical activity action plan is also welcomed, particularly given that rates of physical activity are also considerably lower outside of major cities.
“However, solutions designed for city folks do not automatically translate to changes in country towns, the Alliance is keen to ensure that solution proposed will address the specific needs of those living in country Australia,” she said.