SA food ban naive in addressing obesity

Posted by Josette Dunn on 3rd September 2010

An approach by the SA Health Department to ban high fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) foods from department events and meetings is a heavy-handed and naive solution to the nation’s complex obesity problem, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said last week.

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Criticised by the AMA SA as “ridiculous” and a “nanny state” approach, the move involves banning pies, pasties, sausages and soft drinks to ensure SA Health offices send a clear message about the responsible consumption of foods.

AFGC Deputy Chief Executive Dr Geoffrey Annison said there were more sophisticated ways of helping people to understand the importance of enjoying a balanced, nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle.

“This bureaucratic and naive approach to Australia’s obesity issue ignores the notion of helping to motivate consumers about making better choices to support a healthier life,” Dr Annison said.

“While we must not underestimate the public health challenges that obesity and chronic health issues present, heavy-handed approaches are a band-aid solution and don’t educate consumers about improving their food choices.

“Industry welcomes the voice of reason in this debate from medical professionals who have highlighted that the major responsibility is about educating people that all foods eaten in moderation can form part of a nutritious and balanced diet.”

Australia’s food manufacturing industry has already made strong inroads in addressing obesity through making foods healthier, reducing advertising to children and easy to understand front-of-pack labelling.

Under the Food and Health Dialogue, Australia’s food industry has agreed to salt reduction targets for breads and cereals. AFGC Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI) is also reducing the amount of advertising of HFSS foods on children’s television.

Industry has gained success in front-of-pack food labelling under the Daily Intake Guide (DIG) scheme which gives people the information needed to formulate a daily eating plan according to their individual needs and activity levels.