OPC welcomes funding boost for chronic disease and obesity prevention initiatives and research

Thursday 11 May, 2017

The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) has welcomed the Federal Budget announcement of $10m for research into chronic disease prevention, $10m for walking interventions and $5 million to enable better GP interventions for patients with obesity, but obesity prevention is still incredibly underfunded.

"Chronic disease is having a serious and growing impact on Australians and their families, as well as our economy and healthcare system. Currently 63% of adults and 27% of children are overweight or obese - this puts them at greater risk of life-threatening chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer," OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin said.

"It's good to see the Federal Government commit $10million for research into chronic disease prevention and its investments in walking and GP interventions, but there is so much more that needs to be done to tackle our concerning obesity problem.

"Adult obesity cost the Commonwealth Government $6.06 billion in 2011-12 (in 2014-15 dollars) in both direct and indirect costs[i]. Real progress requires the severity of the problem to be matched by an appropriate level of funding and policy implementation."

In February, the OPC worked with The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre and Deakin University to produce the Food Policy Index which outlines where Australia is falling behind on world's best practice to tackle the rise of obesity through unhealthy diets.

The landmark report supports key actions by government to address the obesity epidemic, including:

  1. Develop and implement a long-term, comprehensive strategy to address obesity.
  2. Take action to substantially reduce children's exposure to junk food marketing.
  3. Introduce a health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages to increase price by at least 20% with the funds used to support obesity prevention initiatives.
  4. Make the Health Star Rating System mandatory, to ensure it is displayed on all packaged food products.

"Obesity is now one of the leading causes of preventable death and disability in Australia.  While there's no silver bullet for reducing overweight and obesity rates, these are key actions, which we know can make a significant difference to the health of all Australians," Ms Martin said.

"We welcome a discussion on the potential for these actions to address the obesity problem."

About the Obesity Policy Coalition

The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) is a partnership between Cancer Council Victoria, Diabetes Victoria and the Global Obesity Centre at Deakin University, a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention. The OPC advocates for evidence-based policy and regulatory change to address overweight, obesity and unhealthy diets in Australia.

 


[i] Price Waterhouse Coopers, Weighing the cost of obesity - a case for action, 2015, www.pwc.com.au/obesity; Duckett, S., Swerissen, H. and Wiltshire, T. 2016, A sugary drinks tax: recovering the community costs of obesity, Grattan Institute.