Two health experts who recently appeared on Australia’s ABC Lateline have reportedly called for additional government regulation to help combat rising obesity levels. University of Melbourne Professor Rob Moodie, who previously chaired Australia’s Preventative Health Taskforce, reportedly suggested that because voluntary programs have failed to curb obesity and diabetes rates, the government should step in with mandatory policies designed to tackle “the junk food industry the same way it confronted the tobacco industry.”
“What they’ve failed to do is bring in the policies to reduce the obesigenic food environment,” Deakin University Professor Boyd Swinburn told Lateline’s Margot O’Neill. “Restrict marketing of junk foods to children, take fiscal policies, taxes, subsidies to make healthy foods cheaper and so on. That’s where the failure is: not addressing the unhealthy food environment.”
But a representative from the Australian Food and Grocery Council countered that childhood obesity rates have already stopped increasing thanks, in part, to the voluntary efforts being criticized by Moodie and Swinburn. “If you look overseas to where more direct intervention in the market has happened in advertising, it hasn’t worked,” said a council spokesperson. “And therefore we should be looking at the evidence and getting back to the facts, not opting for overly simplistic approaches.” See Lateline, October 29, 2012.