SELECT COMMITTEE REPORT INTO AUSTRALIA’S OBESITY EPIDEMIC - Media Release, Wednesday 5 December 2018
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
DEPUTY CHAIR, SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE INTO THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC IN AUSTRALIA
LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA
Labor welcomes today’s release of the Senate Select Committee’s report into the obesity epidemic in Australia.
The Chair’s report has highlighted the already significant health and economic impacts of rising obesity levels upon Australia’s community.
While Labor agrees with the majority of the recommendations in the Chair’s report, Labor Senators have provided a dissenting report on the implementation of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax and immediate restrictions on food and drink advertising.
A wide-range of stakeholders made submissions to the Committee’s inquiry or appeared at its public hearings to urge for targeted health interventions, broad education campaigns and the need for a National Obesity Taskforce.
The Committee heard Australia's obesity rate of 28 per cent of the population aged 15 and over is the fifth highest among OECD countries, while Australia’s rate of childhood obesity is increasing rapidly.
There are currently over one million children in Australia who are overweight or obese, while 20 per cent of children aged 2–4 and 27 per cent of children and adolescents aged 5–17 were overweight or obese in 2014-15.
The Committee also heard that Indigenous children and adults were more likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to be overweight or obese.
Labor Senators are encouraged by the strong level of support for action on obesity, and are pleased to support the majority of the Chair’s recommendations, like the establishment of a National Obesity Taskforce and the development of a National Obesity Strategy.
Labor Senators have proposed that a newly-created National Obesity Taskforce conduct a comprehensive review of the regulatory framework for food and drink advertising and marketing to children, in conjunction with relevant health, media and advertising bodies, to ensure the framework is fit for purpose in the contemporary media environment and also recommend that a food-identification standard be agreed to inform any review and facilitate its uniform implementation across all platforms.
Labor takes seriously the complex challenges facing Australia in its efforts to beat the obesity epidemic.
Labor was committed to tackling obesity when in government, including our substantial investment in the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health and establishing the Australian National Preventive Health Agency.
Both of these measures were abolished by the Liberals, who also cut $368 million in funding from this space.
We’ve been calling on the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government to act on the issue of obesity ever since but they have done absolutely nothing.
In stark contrast, Labor went to the last election promising a major investment in tackling obesity and chronic disease.
The difference couldn’t be clearer: Labor will prioritise and invest in tackling obesity and chronic disease, but the Liberals will cut and neglect this critical health issue.
WEDNESDAY, 5 DECEMBER 2018
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by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.