06 Jun, 2012 Last updated: 30 Mar, 2015

By Jerril Rechter, VicHealth CEO

Letter to the editor first published in the Bendigo Advertiser, 6 June 2012.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter

In the coming months, New York will become the first state to ban large sized soft drinks (590ml) in restaurants, fast food outlets, delicatessens and movie theatres.

New York has fast become a world-leader in progressive moves to combat obesity. This is precisely the kind of bold thinking that is needed to turn around Victoria’s obesity epidemic.

New York was also the first to introduce calorie information on menu boards of large fast food chains in 2008 and health authorities invested in anti-tobacco lobby style shock ad campaigns designed to tackle the community’s love affair with sugary soft drinks.

In America, fast food portion sizes have increased up to five times over the past few decades.

And there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest the same is occurring here at home – in fast food outlets, restaurants, supermarkets, and even at home.

VicHealth is currently finalising its nutrition strategy for the next three years, which includes an emphasis on changing Victoria’s ‘food culture’, that is, our perceptions of what constitutes ‘normal’ food.

We want to move people from expecting large portion sizes. And we want to change the culture so that large is not the norm. Limiting serve sizes is a good way to reduce kilojoule intake throughout the day. This is particularly true for sugary drinks.

Momentum is gathering in Victoria, with everyone from state and local governments to NGOs playing their part.

New York has set a cracking pace in nutrition reform that Victoria can, and should, match. For decades, we have been a leader in tobacco reform, let’s show the world we are a leader in tackling obesity.

- Jerril