by Clare O'Shea, LiveLighter food science, nutrition and media communications intern


Leading health, medical, consumer and community groups have united to call on the Federal Government to take immediate action to tackle Australia’s obesity problem.

Obesity Policy Coalition Executive Manager, Jane Martin, was a driving force behind the action plan, which launched in late September.

I sat down with Jane to ask her to explain what the obesity action plan, Tipping the Scales, is all about and what needs to be done to reduce the impact of obesity and weight-related health problems.

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Clare O'Shea with Jane Martin

Clare: Why was the Tipping the Scales obesity action plan developed?

Jane: At the moment 63 per cent of Australian adults and 27 per cent of our children are overweight or obese. As there is still no whole-of-government strategy to tackle Australia’s serious obesity problem, Tipping the Scales was developed to address the elements of Australia’s environment which set individuals and families up for unhealthy lifestyles.

Clare: Who is involved in the campaign?

Jane: The calls to action outlined in ‘Tipping the Scales’ are endorsed by thirty-four leading community, public health, medical and academic groups. This is the first time so many leading groups have come together to outline what the Federal Government must do urgently to reduce the impact of obesity on our nation.

Clare: What is the aim of the campaign and why is it important?

Jane: Obesity poses such an immense threat to Australia’s physical and economic health that it needs its own, standalone prevention strategy if progress is to be made. The campaign identifies eight clear, practical actions the Australian Federal Government must take to not only reduce disease and premature deaths, but also improve wellbeing, bring vital benefits to the economy and set Australians up for a healthier future. These are policies which have been proven to work in other parts of the world and have the potential to work here - but they need to be implemented by Australian governments as a matter of urgency. The eight actions are:

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Clare: What can every day Australians do to help tackle obesity?

Jane: There are many things that Australians can do. Here are some of the ways you can help us get our message heard:

  • Create environments that support healthy choices and make them the easy choice. Encourage your local schools, sports clubs and council to make healthy changes, such as limiting the availability of sugary drinks or moving on from the chocolate fundraiser. The Parents Voice has lots of useful advice and ideas parentsvoice.org.au
  • Speak or write to your local Federal Member of Parliament and call for them to adopt our obesity strategy including the eight key policy actions outlined in our report.
  • Share our infographic on social media with the hash tag #TippingTheScales. You can download the infographic here.

You can also improve your own health and the health of your family by:

  • Learning how to read food labels and comparing the nutrition information panels of similarly packaged food items. This will make it easier for you to make healthier choices. See LiveLighter’s food label reading card for more information.
  • Being active every day and sitting less, which along with healthy eating are important ingredients  of maintaining a healthy weight. Visit LiveLighter’s tips for sitting less for more information.

For more information, visit www.opc.org.au/tippingthescales or watch the below video to see how much junk food marketing Australian children see.