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Policy brief: Reforming planning laws to reduce overweight and obesity in Australia [ 100% ]

1 October 2014


The Australian population's high rates of obesity and the resultant increased risk of non-communicable diseases (NCD), present a great challenge to governments and policy makers. Increasingly, strategies to influence health have become priorities for planners, however Australian planning laws continue to operate largely without regard for public health goals.

This policy brief provides an overview of:

  1. The growing body of research into the impact of urban planning on health and non-communicable disease, particularly through influencing physical activity levels and diets; 
  2. The limited role of local governments in shaping planning priorities, their growing role in promoting preventative health in local communities, and the conflict that currently exists between the operation of these two schemes; and 
  3. The potential for reform of planning laws by State Governments to impact rates of overweight and obesity and to improve health in Australian communities. 




Victorian Govenment Grow Learn Live Well submission [ 62% ]

1 December 2013

This submission provided comment on the three key reform areas proposed in the Victorian Government’s draft policy framework: 'Grow Learn Live Well: Promoting the health of Victoria’s children and young people’.  It focused on initiatives to support and empower children and families to live healthier lives; to create healthy environments; and align priorities across sectors to improve health and wellbeing. 

Targeted initiatives would build upon achievements attained through Healthy Together Victoria initiatives. 

The submission also emphasised the importance of integrating preventative health considerations across other policy sectors, including those not traditionally concerned with health.

New COAG Report: Obesity tops the list of areas of concern for Australia's future health [ 58% ]

12 June 2014

The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) is calling for government action to stem the obesity epidemic following the release of the COAG Reform Council's final report on healthcare reform.

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing Inquiry into Obesity [ 33% ]

13 June 2008

The terms of reference for the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing Inquiry into Obesity were to report on the implications of increasing obesity rates for Australia's health system, and to recommend actions by government, industry, individuals and the broader community to manage the obesity epidemic.

The OPC's submission to the Inquiry made a number of recommendations for action by government, including the following:

  • Develop a whole of government, long-term strategy for preventing overweight and obesity.
  • Regularly collect and disseminate weight, nutrition and physical activity data to inform, and evaluate the effectiveness of, policies and programs.
  • Develop a national food and nutrition policy.
  • Restrict all forms of marketing of unhealthy food to children.
  • Develop a ‘traffic light' food labelling system, for mandatory use on the front of food packaging and on fast food menus.
  • Request the Department of Treasury and Finance to investigate mechanisms to increase the price of unhealthy food and subsidise fruit and vegetables.
  • Provide funding to support workplace health promotion (commencing in the public sector).
  • Support supermarkets to promote healthy food choices.

Reports of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity [ 27% ]

1 December 2015


The OPC's submission to the Interim Report of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity welcomed the report but encouraged the Commission to strengthen its position by:

  • highlighting the vital need for WHO and government led policy and regulatory reform;
  • recognising the problems with industry self-regulation and need for governments to manage inherent conflicts of interest;
  • more strongly recognising the social and environmental drivers of overweight and obesity (and the strategies to address them);
  • advocating for the elevation of the WHO Set of Recommendations on the Marketing of Foods and Non-alcoholic Beverages to Children to code or preferably convention status, and/or advocating for a framework convention on food, diets, weight and non-communicable disease; and
  • having regard to the monitoring criteria and progress of the International Network for Obesity/NCD Research, Monitoring and Support (INFORMAS) and the accounting framework recently outlined by Swinburn et al in the Second Lancet Series on Obesity (February, 2015).
The WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity released its Draft Final Report in September 2015. The Draft Final Report is available here

The OPC's responses to the WHO's online consultation questions welcomed the Draft Final Report which included a strengthened focus on prevention, recognition of the importance of government leadership and greater specificity in its recommended Policy Actions. The OPC's responses also highlighting some ways the Final Report could be further strengthened.


Issues Paper to inform the development of a national food plan [ 26% ]

1 September 2011

The OPC's submission to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's Issues Paper to inform the development of a national food plan recommended:

  • An overarching approach to food policy and regulation that prioritises public health, in particular the reduction of obesity, overweight and chronic diease 
  • Prioritisation of public health objectives when considering how to minimise regulatory burdens
  • Linkages between the plan and other food related documents
  • Recognition of food advertising as a key driver of childhood overweight and obesity
  • Development and administration of the plan across portfolios, with input from public health group.

The OPC also recommended that the government adopt the recommendations in the Labelling Logic report, investigate options for taxing/subsiding foods to influence consumption, set maximum targets for fat, sugar and salt across food categories (and targets for reduced population intake) and restrict unhealthy food advertising to children.

FSANZ Labelling Review Recommendation 17: Per serving declarations in nutrition information panel [ 24% ]

1 February 2015


The OPC's submission, regarding the proposal to make the inclusion of 'per serve' information within Nutrition Information Panels (NIP) on packaged foods optional in Australia, focused on the need for FSANZ to:

  • Ensure that all food labelling reforms are undertaken within the context of ongoing efforts to improve the utility of food labels for Australian consumers by promoting use of the Health Star Rating System (HSRS)
  • Address the misleading application of industry-determined serving sizes
  • Ensure any reforms to the NIPs promote widespread adoption of the HSRS




Comprehensive Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy [ 22% ]

14 May 2010

The Comprehensive Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy (2011) was undertaken at the request of the Australian Ministerial Council, with the agreement of the Council of Australian Governments.

The OPC's first submission was in response to the Food Regulation Standing Committee's (FRSC) Consultation Paper for a Front of Pack Labelling Policy Guideline. The OPC recommended that the policy guideline should support the introduction of a uniform, mandatory and easy to use front of pack labelling system, preferably a traffic light labelling system.

The OPC's second submission was in response to the review panel's issues consultation paper. It outlined a number of key recommendations for changes to food labelling law and policy to encourage healthier patterns of eating in the Australian population, including:

  • Mandatory traffic light labelling on the front of food packages, in fast food outlets and in food retail outlets in public institutions (e.g. hospitals and schools)
  • Restrictions on use of nutrition claims (e.g. high fibre) in food advertising and on packaging to foods that meet general nutrition profile criteria (to ensure claims can only be made about foods that are healthy overall)
  • Requirements for disclosure of nutrition information in food advertisements
  • Establishment of a national food labelling enforcement authority
  • Development of overarching food labelling principles, and detailed food labelling interpretation guidelines

The Review Panel adopted a number of the OPC's recommendations for food labelling reforms (see Labelling Logic - Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy Report). In particular, the Review Panel recommended the introduction of a traffic light labelling system on the front of food packs and fast food menus (recommendations 50 - 54), the introduction of mandatory energy labelling on fast food menus and vending machines (recommendation 18),  requirement that all foods that make nutrition claims must meet general nutrition profile criteria (recommendation 20b) and establishment of a food labelling bureau (recommendation 57- 61).

The OPC's third submission was to inform the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments' response to the Labelling Logic report. It encouraged Australian governments to support the adoption of the recommendations in the report, particularly recommendations 50 - 54, 18, 20b and 57-61. It also made some additional suggestions to strengthen the effectiveness of, and compliance with, any traffic light labelling scheme.

Health groups release landmark blueprint to tackle key driver of childhood obesity [ 9% ]

9 May 2011

The Obesity Policy Coalition has today released the first Australian plan for legislation that offers real protection for children from unhealthy food advertising – one of the key drivers of childhood obesity.

Tipping the Scales: We must halt obesity to save Australian lives [ 9% ]

19 September 2017

Thirty-four leading community, public health, medical and academic groups have today united for the first time to call for urgent Federal Government action to address Australia’s serious obesity problem.

Total 22 articles in this section.
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