Almost 100 Victorians will take part in VicHealth’s Citizen’s Jury on Obesity in Melbourne this weekend.
The Jury – a randomly-selected cross-section of the Victorian community – has been convened by VicHealth with the support of government and industry to recommend practical, workable actions to improve people’s eating habits and tackle rising rates of obesity.
“Obesity is the number one health issue facing Australia,” says VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter. “Being overweight or obese can lead to back, mental health and reproductive problems. It increases the risk of potentially life-threatening conditions like Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease and cancer.”
One in four children and two in three adults - are overweight or obese. Without urgent action, three in four adults and one in three children is expected to be overweight or obese by 2025.
“Despite the best efforts of government and public health bodies, obesity rates are rising rapidly,” says Ms Rechter. “This is an opportunity to try something different. It is the first time a Citizens’ Jury has been convened on this scale in Australia to tackle a major public health issue. We’re putting everyday Victorians in the driving seat. The jury includes men and women from across the State and from almost every walk of life. There are health workers, firemen, tradies, business owners, students and retirees.”
Jurors have spent the past six weeks learning about obesity from experts. The group has received 64 submissions from individuals and organisations including Alfred Health, AMA Victoria, Australian Beverages Council, Australian Breastfeeding Association, CHOICE, Eating Disorders Victoria, Obesity Policy Coalition, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, as well as VicHealth.
The jury will spend the next two days hearing further evidence from experts in behavioural science and public health as well as senior government and industry leaders before retiring to consider their recommendations.
A panel of key decision-makers from government, industry and public health will meet in early November to consider each of the Jury’s ‘asks’ and select actions to trial and implement. The group includes representatives from the AMA Victoria, Australian Beverages Council, Australian Food & Grocery Council, CHOICE, City of Melbourne, and Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research at Deakin University, Coles, Foodbank Victoria, Obesity Policy Coalition, Tennis Australia, and the Victorian Government Department of Premier and Cabinet.
“There will be clear actions as a result of this weekend’s event,” says Ms Rechter. “The Jury’s recommendations will be carefully considered with the best trialled or implemented. Obesity is an epidemic. We can’t stand idly by. There is a real appetite across government, industry and our community to act.”
The jury’s recommendations will be published on the VicHealth website on Monday 19 October 2015.
Notes to editors
VicHealth’s Citizens' Jury on is supported by newDemocracy Foundation, Australia’s leading research organisation specialising in democratic innovation.
Hear from some of the jurors participating in this weekend’s event at: http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/programs-and-projects/victorias-citizens-jury-on-obesity
Read the report at: https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/media-and-resources/publications/victorias-citizens-jury-on-obesity-insights-report
Ray Dunne, Acting Media Advisor T 03 9667 1319 E [email protected]