Finally, we’re getting a little election campaign action on health. As you’ve no doubt heard, the PM today announced a series of mental health initiatives (stay tuned for more comment on these in a later Croakey post).
But the Parents Jury is wishing for much more attention to some bigger-picture health issues.
Caitlin Syrett, Project Officer of The Parents Jury, writes:
“In May, federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon declared that “increasing our action on preventative health has never been more important” (In the response to the National Preventative Health Strategy, May 2010).
So why at this time, when the major political parties are outlining their visions for the future of Australia, has no one commented on preventative health?
Around 60% of Australian adults are overweight or obese and if current trends continue without solid intervention, it is predicted that our national figure will blow out to 75% by 2025.
Obesity and its associated chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, some cancers, heart disease and mental health are the greatest health issues. They will put an enormous strain on our health care system and the national economy for decades to come. It is predicted that the cost of lifestyle-related cases of type 2 diabetes alone will quadruple to $8 billion by 2032.
If the incoming federal government is genuinely concerned about the health of Australians, and the strength of the health system and the economy, it must get to the root of the problem and start talking about prevention.
With nearly one in four Australia children either overweight or obese, this talking needs to start now.
The Parents Jury is calling for:
- A ban on the advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks on free to air and subscription television stations from 6am to 9pm daily.
- A mandatory front-of-pack traffic light labelling system on all pre-packaged foods.
- Nationally-consistent mandatory school nutrition guidelines for public schools, encompassing all food environments, including canteens, vending machines, fundraising, classroom rewards, excursions and food company sponsorship.
- The phasing out of advertising and sponsorship in children’s sport by unhealthy food and drink companies.
The incoming federal government must address these four areas and support Australian parents to overcome the unhealthy influences that contribute to our current rates of childhood overweight and obesity.
Structural change can empower parents to become informed consumers on behalf of their children, and reinforces their efforts to raise healthy and active children.
The Parents Jury’s policy priorities will also:
- help parents make informed nutritional choices,
- reduce children’s exposure to promotions for unhealthy food and drink
- drive consumer demand towards healthier foods and drinks, which will in turn
- create a financial incentive for the food industry to manufacture healthier foods and drinks, and contribute to an overall healthier food supply.
With nearly one in four Australia children either overweight or obese, there is an urgent need for the incoming federal government to make preventative health a national priority.”
• The Parents Jury, if you haven’t already met them (and I do recommend making their acquaintance), is an online network of parents, grandparents and guardians, who are interested in improving the food and physical activity environments of Australian children. It is an initiative of Cancer Council Australia, Diabetes Australia Vic, QLD and WA, the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society, VicHealth and YMCA Victoria.