This consensus statement outlines practical recommendations to the Victorian Government to turn the tide on obesity. The focus is on children and young people to give them the best chance for a healthier start to life.
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Over the past two decades, Victorian adult obesity rates have increased by 40 per cent and today two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. Almost one in four Victorian children are overweight or obese.
The combined impact of poor diet and being overweight or obese is one of Victoria’s greatest health challenges.
Overweight and obesity, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are avoidable risks for chronic health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and several cancers.
A Healthier Start for Victorians lists eight practical recommendations to the Victorian Government to turn the tide on obesity. These recommendations focus on children and young people to give them the best chance for a healthier start to life. They are as follows.
Action to prevent obesity in Victoria
1. Engage and support local communities to develop and lead their own healthy eating and physical activity initiatives
These should be community-based and focus on local areas or population groups with the highest rates of overweight and obesity.
2. Protect children from unhealthy food and drink marketing
This includes prohibiting advertising, promotion and sponsorship in publicly owned and managed places. Priority should be given to areas around schools, children’s sporting events and activities, and public transport.
3. Implement a statewide public education campaign to encourage healthy eating
This should focus on population groups with the highest rates of overweight and obesity.
4. Implement initiatives to improve family diets, particularly in children’s early years
This should focus on increasing food literacy and prioritising specific population groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
5. Support schools to increase students’ physical activity and physical literacy
This should take a whole-of-school approach, be reflected in the curriculum and be supported by training and professional development.
6. Increase the scope of and strengthen compliance with the existing School Canteens and Other School Food Services Policy
This should take a whole-of-school approach, be reflected in the curriculum and be backed by a monitoring and enforcement framework.
7. Develop a whole-of-government policy that requires healthy food procurement
This should incorporate the Healthy Choices guidelines and apply to all publicly owned and managed facilities and settings.
8. Develop and implement a strategy to get Victorians walking more
This should emphasise the need for walking infrastructure and urban design to make it safer and easier for people to walk to local destinations like shops, public transport, and schools.
Recommendations should be supported by an overarching Victorian obesity prevention plan that is overseen by a ministerial taskforce. This will ensure a whole-of-government approach to addressing obesity prevention as a Victorian health priority.
A Healthier Start for Victorians has been developed by the Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Roundtable and is supported by a broad base of health and wellbeing organisations.