Health Groups Lobby to Improve Unhealthy Eating Habits

By Petrina Smith
Tuesday, 20 January, 2015

Four major lobbying groups have come together to voice their concern on the unhealthy eating habits of Australians, following the release of a new nationwide poll.
The Consumers Health Forum, the Heart Foundation, the Obesity Policy Coalition and the Public Health Association of Australia say action is critically needed, following the poll of 1016 Australians. Results reveal  79 per cent of Australians polled believe unless more is done to lower the intake of fatty, sugary and salty food and drinks, our children will live shorter lives than their parents.
The research also indicates 64 per cent of people polled say the food industry has more to say than the government over the regulation of food and 77 per cent support health star ratings on all packaged food.
There is support from all age groups for the Government to introduce a tax on junk food and sugary drinks similar to that on alcohol and tobacco (52% of 18 to 34 year olds approved, 49% of 35 to 54 year olds approved and 48% of people 55 plus approved). 85% of people polled said unhealthy eating habits are now a major problem for Australian children.
Earlier this month, the Heart Foundation called on the Government to rule out any GST increase on fresh foods, saying it would not encourage Australians to make healthier choices.
“The Heart Foundation has been helping Australians with heart disease for close to 60 years- and whilst we have had improvements, a tax on fresh food won’t help those who need it the most,” National Heart Foundation CEO Mary Barry said.
“If the government want to look at taxing anything, they should look at taxing sugar sweetened beverages,” Ms Barry said.
She said the impact of Mexico’s obesity crisis, with 32 per cent of that country’s population being obese led them to bring in a tax on sugar sweetened beverages last year. Some 14 per cent of the Mexican population has diabetes and rates of high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke and heart attacks also increased.
Late last year Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition Jane Martin, said the Health Star Rating scheme is an important step  to helping solve Australia's wide-spread obesity problem.
"Recent figures show that poor diet is the greatest risk for the burden of death and disease in Australia, followed by overweight and obesity," Ms Martin says.

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