Policies for tackling obesity and creating healthier food environments: scorecard and priority recommendations for Australian governments
Comprehensive government policy action is needed to address obesity and improve population diets
Unhealthy diets and obesity are leading contributors to poor health in Australia. Addressing obesity and improving population diets requires a comprehensive government response at the Commonwealth and State/Territory levels. There is expert consensus internationally on policy actions that are required to improve population nutrition and create healthier food environments. As part of a 2016 project supported by The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre, the extent to which each jurisdiction in Australia is implementing these globally recommended policies was assessed, and priority actions for each government identified.
Australian Food Policy Index 2016
As part of the project, a Food Policy Index was developed for Australia to assess the food- and diet-related policies that are in place and identify gaps. This was based on the Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) that was developed by INFORMAS, an international network of experts in food policy, and has been applied in several countries.
The Food-EPI covers the key policies in this area, including specific aspects of food environments (such as food composition, labelling, promotion, prices and provision) that have been shown to have an important impact on population diets and obesity, and infrastructure support (including leadership, governance, monitoring and funding) that helps facilitate effective policy implementation.
Process of assessment
The project team worked closely with government officials to document current policy actions (up to 30 June 2016) in each jurisdiction, across 42 policy areas of the Food-EPI tool.
Over 100 experts (including academics, nutritionists, and senior representatives from health NGOs and community groups) from 53 organisations assessed the extent of implementation in each policy area, for each level of government. They also identified policy recommendations for each jurisdiction, and prioritised them based on their perceived importance and achievability.
Scorecard and priority recommendations for each government in Australia