Statement: Still a way to go after release of National Obesity Strategy

The George Institute for Global Health welcomes the release of the long-awaited National Obesity Strategy 2022-2032 but says there is a way to go in achieving reductions in rates of overweight and obesity in Australia.

“The George Institute has been producing research on overweight and obesity for over 20 years, with excellent support from the translational research agenda led by the government,” said Professor Bruce Neal, Executive Director of The George Institute Australia.

“However, when it comes to putting that research into health policy, there is still a way to go.”

“Our research clearly shows that a healthy food environment is critical to the prevention of overweight and obesity. Current policy approaches are still focussed on how the individual needs to change – not how to improve the places where people live and make the easy choice the healthy choice. We will not succeed in addressing obesity until government tackles the commercial entities pushing unhealthy products into our communities.”

“We need to see a real change in focus when it comes to implementation for the Strategy to be effective. Education, information and voluntary industry programs are not going to cut it and will be a waste of everyone’s time and money. For real impact government will have to bite the bullet and implement mandatory restrictions on marketing to children, taxes on unhealthy foods like sugary drinks and transparent labelling of the nutritional quality of foods.”

“A ‘business as usual’ approach will see ‘obesity as usual’ in 2032. The Strategy sets out great ambitions but urgently needs an implementation plan to match.”

“We call on governments nationwide to make effective implementation of the Strategy a priority – and enact bold policies that will make the affordable and easy food choice, the healthy and nutritious food choice,” Professor Neal said.