A powerful group of health bodies have laid down the latest salvo in their war on the food industry and in particular the soft drink industry over the worsening problem of obesity. While it might seem to have been tried before perhaps it is the feebleness of response from Canberra; ‘people should eat less’, or not ‘wanting grocery bills to go up’ that drives this latest attempt.
The health groups after all are the ones feeling and experiencing the direct result of the latest national health crisis they liken to the new tobacco. And like tobacco before it, they feel almost impotent as the effects grow worse but the vested interests of a massive industry refuse to accept responsibility for the consequences of their products. All the while it is the taxpayers who continue to pay out in ballooning health budgets.So preventative measures, and a soft drink tax is only one of the arrows in this quiver, however it much it may sting the free market champions, is both an economic and health expedient.
The coalition of 34 high-profile groups including the Obesity Policy Coalition, Cancer Council, Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne and the Stroke Foundation are calling on the federal government to establish obesity prevention as a national priority. The strategy includes a ban on unhealthy food advertising on free-to-air television during prime time, when they say the greatest numbers of children are watching.
The renewed call stems from what this coalition sees as a sense of urgency, most particularly in the failure to avert a nascent health crisis that is occurring for the next generation; two much of a good thing is hitting our children hardest.
Rates of obesity continue to climb in Australia, with about 63 per cent of adults and 27 per cent of children obese or overweight and the "Tipping the Scales" campaign is the latest effort to get legislators to do something about what health professionals are experiencing first hand.
In the face of the indecision and atrophy in Canberra, hospitals and schools in Ballarat have already taken on the challenge, banning vending machines and implementing their own programs to get kids active and better educated on nutrition. They may not be much but these dissuaders are the best tools families have at hand against the power of marketing and habit. With a problem so big, every little bit helps. So the local work goes on while the Federal leadership falters yet again.