Today’s release of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on overweight and obesity rates should serve as a shocking wake up call for the Turnbull Government – stop sitting on your hands and start acting on this critical public health issue by putting a National Physical Activity Strategy in place.
The AIHW’s Healthy Communities report illustrates why overweight and obesity rates are a serious problem for the future of our health system, finding that around 64 per cent of Australian adults – 11.2 million – are now overweight or obese.
The Government needs to get serious and start putting in place serious strategies to combat this epidemic. We don’t need more inquiries – Australia needs action.
The Global Burden of Disease study identified dietary risk and high body mass index as the top two contributors to burden of disease – even higher than smoking – linked to conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
That’s why during the election, Labor committed to developing Australia’s first National Physical Activity Strategy.
Australia is falling behind the pack when it comes to tackling obesity – more than a dozen countries already have strategies in place to increase activity and reduce obesity.
We also committed to introduce a National Nutrition Framework, to work with food producers and retailers to expand the utilisation of the Health Star Rating system, something Labor developed in Government.
In contrast, the Abbott-Turnbull Government has gutted preventative health programs and cut $368 million out of prevention. This forced the closure of successful health promotion programs including the Healthy Children program which provided funding to states and territories to run physical activity and healthy eating programs for children in schools, early childhood centres and preschools.
Australia needs a Government prepared to take action in recognition of the cost of obesity and associated co-morbidities, and actively help Australians to change their behaviour. The Turnbull Government either doesn’t care, or isn’t up to the task.
THURSDAY, 8 DECEMBER 2016