Letter to The Age

Friday 15 May, 2009

 

Labelling supports healthy choices

THE Age editorial (13/5) hits the nail on the head. Countries such as the UK have recognised that obesity prevention programs without policy reforms are ineffective. Curbing demand for unhealthy food and creating environments that support healthy choices are critical. This can't be done by education alone.

A key driver of demand for unhealthy food is advertising, and kids are increasingly being targeted not just through free-to-air television, but pay TV, the internet and mobile phones. Parents are also a key target.

A review of front-of-pack labelling is under way. Consumers need a clear labelling system that highlights whether levels of salt, sugar and fat are high, medium or low in the product. It would also encourage manufacturers to make their products healthier.

At a time when 23 per cent of Victorian primary school children are drinking more soft drink than water, and all children are eating more than the recommended intake of salt, more needs to be done. All governments must be prepared to introduce tighter regulations relating to the marketing of food, especially to children.

Jane Martin
Senior Policy Adviser
Obesity Policy Coalition