The Obesity Policy Coalition has applauded the Victorian Government's Healthy Eating Enterprise stating it is going to the heart of the issue and tackling some of the key drivers of obesity by integrating and embedding principles around healthy eating where people work, play and live.
"Victorians' diets are so full of sugar, fat and salt from processed foods that it is becoming the norm to be overweight or obese, with almost half the population in these categories," said Ms Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition.
"This is a public health time bomb that has the potential to overwhelm our hospital system with chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The Government's new Enterprise will hopefully help to tackle this looming issue.
"Putting a focus on fresh locally grown fruit and vegetables through the Healthy Food Charter, which will flow through to schools, hospitals and workplaces, is an excellent start in raising awareness of the importance of a healthy diet. Currently nine out of ten Victorians do not eat the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables every day. There is huge potential here to improve our diets.
"The Jamie Oliver initiative is a valuable element in teaching people how to source, shop and prepare healthy meals for their families. In many communities these skills have been lost with convenient, low cost, heavily promoted processed foods so readily available. This is an opportunity to empower families with these skills and tools.
"It's really important to have these policies and programs that operate in communities and a framework to support it, but there are some key government policy elements that need to be considered to stop these initiatives being undermined," she said.
Ms Martin said that embedding kilojoule labelling on food chain menus, removing junk food sponsorship from kids' sport and investigating restrictions on marketing unhealthy food to children as well as government departments leading by example would all improve the likelihood of success of the Enterprise initiative.
The Obesity Policy Coalition is a group of leading public health agencies who are concerned about the escalating levels of overweight and obesity, particularly in children.
The Obesity Policy Coalition partners include Diabetes Australia - Vic, Cancer Council Victoria, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University.