Obesity Experts Join Forces To Fight Obesity A new coalition of leading health experts is calling for urgent government action to stem the escalating rates of overweight and obesity in children.
At an event today to mark its official launch, the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) will present a package of proposals for consideration by political parties prior to the federal election. The package includes a GST on high sugar breakfast cereals and an overhaul of food and beverage product labeling to support people in making healthier choices.
Currently one quarter of Australian children are overweight or obese and it is estimated this will rise to 60% in thirty years' time.
The OPC's senior policy adviser, Ms Jane Martin said it is a ridiculous situation where the federal government is effectively subsidising high sugar cereals by allowing them to be free of a GST.
"Some cereals being marketed are up to 40$ sugar which in reality is no different to the levels of sugar in some confectionary products. These cereals are an occasional treat, not an everyday food, and should be taxed accordingly," said Ms Martin
The OPC also proposes a new mandatory food and beverage labeling system that would see traffic colours put on the front of all packaged food indicating the levels of sugar, salt and saturated fat. High levels would be red, medium would be orange and low would be green.
"These cereals are a good example of the common practice for the front of food packaging to emphasise particular ingredients without highlighting the high sugar levels. Clear and consistent labeling would give a more accurate assessment of the healthiness of products", said Ms Martin. "Improving and simplifying the information available to consumers has the potential to improve understanding of the contribution different foods make to their diet. This can stimulate changes in food choices and ultimately lead to improved population health," she added.
The OPC is also calling for a comprehensive ban on marketing of unhealthy food to children under 16 in all media, including television, internet, email and mobile phones.