Public Health Association of Australia Comments on Latest COAG Report

By Petrina Smith
Thursday, 12 June, 2014

Michael Moore, Public Health AssociationThe Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) has called on governments to reverse cuts to spending on prevention and to take action to deal with the obesogenic environment In the light of the latest COAG Report.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council has released its latest snapshot on the progress of the states, territories and Commonwealth against the 2008 National Health Agreement.  The report does have some good news about tobacco use and Australians living longer.  However, we now have over 63% of Australians who are overweight or obese.
“It does not paint a pretty picture for a healthy future,” according to Michael Moore, CEO of the PHAA.  “The long term social, economic and health costs of dealing with the results of obesity will be enormous through the impact of the associated complications such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”
Mr Moore added, “While the Federal government is concentrating on bringing the budget into surplus they seem to have lost sight of this long term picture.  Slashing the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health, for example, means ripping apart Australia’s prevention agenda.  Even before the Federal budget the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that less than 2% of health budgets were spent on prevention across the country.  It is a sad, narrow and shortsighted view which reduces this spending further.
“This report should be a wakeup call for all Australian governments,” according to Mr Moore.  “We know the important next steps in the battle against obesity and its associated diseases.  All Australian governments need to work together to tackle marketing of junk food to children, to create active, healthy environments and to promote healthy food to name just a few.
“The Health Star Rating system on the Front of Pack Labelling of food packs should be delayed no longer.  When the Food Ministers’ Forum meets at the end of this month they must give the green light,” he said.
“Finally, it is time for all governments to take a long term view on prevention and invest in the range of preventive measures that will help deliver a healthier society.  It is not good enough to spend huge sums of money in our hospitals treating the results of overweight and obesity when so much more can be achieved with a reasonable investment in prevention right now,” concluded Mr Moore.
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