A national anti-obesity organisation for Australia?

Posted by Janice Wong on 18th March 2010

Industry expert and food lawyer Joe Lederman today questioned the need for the proposed Australian National Preventative Health Agency, a new government body which would tackle preventative health issues like obesity through methods such as ‘social marketing’.

“The most obvious question to be asked is why there is a need to establish such an agency in the context of preventative health and obesity when there are already substantial government commitments and programs in place and research being undertaken by numerous government agencies in all of the areas where the government believes there is supposedly a lack of government initiative,” said Mr Lederman.

According to Mr Lederman, the functions of the planned Australian National Preventative Health Agency are already carried out by a variety of agencies, including the Commonwealth Health Department, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), the CSIRO, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, and the Federal Department of Education Employment and Training.

“From one perspective, it might be argued that the government needs to be seen as proactive in tackling the issue of obesity and chronic diseases by setting up an Agency purely to target this issue. However, the closer one scrutinises the legislation and the more one compares its workings to the pre-existing policy frameworks of government in the same area, the more one must express concern of the unnecessary duplication and waste of precious government resources,” said Mr Lederman.

“There are already a large number of government initiatives, agencies and government bodies with responsibilities to be fulfilled in reducing obesity and dedicating substantial government investment and financial support for programs that enhance obesity research, education and awareness. There is no obvious imperative to create an entirely new Agency of this nature.”

The agency was proposed by the Federal Health Minister in response to the Federal Government’s Preventative Health Taskforce, itself a response to Australia’s endorsement of the World Health Organizaion Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.

The full article by Joe Lederman can be found at How necessary is an Australian National Preventative Health Agency for anti-obesity policy?