Compliance overhaul looms for sugar

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 29th July 2018
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FOOD and drink makers using sugar face a new age of compliance as a Senate inquiry into Australia’s obesity epidemic is about to report.

The committee, chaired by former GP and Greens leader Richard Di Natale, is due to report on August 14.

It’s expected to have looked favourably on health authority submissions calling for a radical new level of regulation and government intervention regarding sugar.

One of those submissions is from The National Rural Health Alliance.

Alliance CEO Mark Diamond said: “Australia has a system where the food and beverage industry broadly regulates itself.”

“With the obesity epidemic getting worse, it is clear that self-regulation is not working.”

“It’s time for governments to impose restrictions on advertising, impose a tax on sugary drinks so the price will rise by at least 20 per cent, and introduce tougher labelling laws.”

The alliance has joined the growing number of health organisations calling for a tax on sugary drinks.

It’s also calling for greater restrictions on marketing unhealthy food to children, including a ban on free-to-air TV advertising until after 9.30pm, putting sugar in a class with similarly restricted products such as cigarettes, alcohol and gambling.

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“A range of factors contribute to greater levels of obesity in country areas including lower incomes, lower levels of education and greater distances to access healthy food.  In remote areas access to affordable and nutritious food is a real problem,” said Mr Diamond.

“The alliance would like to see incentives to support grocers and transport companies to provide more affordable fresh fruit and vegetables to remote parts of Australia.”

The alliance represents 35 national organisations working across the rural and remote health sector. Members include the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), RACGP Rural and the Country Women’s Association of Australia.

Many more children in rural and remote areas are obese or overweight than in major cities.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that in major cities 25 per cent of children aged 2-17 years are obese or overweight.  That figure blows out to 36 per cent of children in remote areas.

The National Rural Health Alliance submission can be found on the Alliance website

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