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Cancer Council Victoria venture grant funds AI tech featured in ABC TV’s Magda’s Big National Health Check

Friday 11 November, 2022

In case you’ve missed it, ABC TV recently debuted a new 3-part series, Magda’s Big National Health Check. The program featured national treasure Magda Szubanski taking a deep dive into the state of Australia’s health. In a personal journey to discover what health looks like in Australia today, Magda discovered how we can improve our chances of a healthy life in the lucky country.

The first episode featured a world-first AI enabled system developed by Deakin University’s Dr Kathryn Backholer and her team to capture children's exposure to, and engagement with, unhealthy food and drink advertising. Catch up on ABC iView to see what her AI glasses tracked when her son, Arlo, walked down Melbourne’s Spencer Street.

Dr Backholer’s project was one of five funded through Cancer Council Victoria's 2020 Venture Grants Program that supports innovative researchers with bold ideas, who would not otherwise attract conventional funding.

This year Cancer Council Victoria launched its Food Fight campaign, which sought to raise awareness of the influence of unhealthy food and drink advertising on children, and their exposure to it as they commute, learn and play.

To date, more than 10,000 people and community and health organisations have signed up to support Food Fight’s call to remove unhealthy food advertising within 500m of schools, on public transport and its infrastructure.

The second episode saw Magda join Obesity Policy Coalition’s (OPC) Executive Manager Jane Martin in Cancer Council Victoria’s kitchen to film a segment on hidden sugars in ready-made baby and toddler foods. During the series development, Jane also provided expert advice and support to the team behind this project.

Demonstrating the processed food industry’s ability to hide sugars in ready-made foods through misleading promotional claims like ‘made with real fruit,’ throws a spotlight on how the Australian government must set higher standards for the ingredients, labelling and promotion of baby and toddler foods.

As a first step through its Kids Are Sweet Enough campaign, OPC is calling for mandatory added sugar labelling to ensure highly processed sugars that are added to these infant and toddler ready-made foods can be easily identified by consumers.

Currently the regulator, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, is reviewing sugar labelling with a decision to be handed down by Food Ministers in June 2023. Add your voice to our call to protect our youngest Australians by signing up to Kids are sweet enough.

Catch up with Magda's Big National Health Check on ABC iView.  

Sign up to support Kids are sweet enough here

View Cancer Council Victoria’s Venture Grant Program here

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