New national food policy requested to tackle health and environmental issues

Posted by Editorial on 2nd February 2009

A new report released today by a national health association – ‘A Future for Food’ – calls for a complete overhaul of food policy in Australia in order to more effectively address the priorities of chronic disease prevention, climate change and social inequality.

Green Earth

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) report claims that consumer demand for processed foods high in salt, sugar and fat is not only harming health, but also impacting on the environment.

“Food is a critical issue across public health, the environment, social policy and the economy – and yet we have a fragmented approach. It is imperative we act now to establish a national, integrated whole-of-government food policy,” Michael Moore, CEO of the PHAA, suggested. “We have a food supply skewed to inappropriate and overly processed foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt; there is inadequate understanding of the environmental impacts of food choices; and we have people struggling to afford healthy food to feed their families.”

‘A Future for Food: Addressing public health, sustainability and equity from paddock to plate’, states that the selection of foods for Australian guidelines has been largely based on nutrition science, which emphasises the adequacy of specific nutrients rather than whole foods.

“In reviewing the research on chronic disease, environmental sustainability and social equity, we believe it is imperative that food recommendations have a stronger emphasis on whole, or minimally processed, and plant-based foods,” Mr Moore reported. “We want public health and food professionals, food industry and consumers to join our call for action. We must work together and act now.”

The Federal Government’s Preventative Health Taskforce is currently working toward providing recommendations to guide the National Preventative Health Strategy, expected to be announced in June.