World Obesity Day: Why Industry Should Take More Responsibility For The Obesity Epidemic
With the advent of World Obesity Day, LiveLighter® is joining the community in calling for industry to take greater responsibility for the obesity epidemic, emphasising the impact of the over-saturated advertising and supply of junk products.
New LiveLighter® research shows a high degree of public support for restrictions on the sale of junk foods, with 72.4 percent of WA adults supporting the restriction of the sale of junk food at children’s sporting events and 60.9 percent supporting the restriction of the sale and marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages in government buildings1.
Cancer Council WA’s Cancer Prevention and Research Director Melissa Ledger said that while some people think obesity is just a matter of laziness or lack of self-control, the obesity challenge cannot be tackled by blaming individuals and calling only for greater personal responsibility.
“Obesity is not just a lifestyle choice or a lack of will-power,” Ms Ledger said. “It’s safe to say that the 2 two-thirds of the adult population who are overweight or obese would not choose to be that way if it was as simple as that.
“Environmental factors influence weight as well as individual behaviour. We live in a complex obesogenic environment where high energy products are readily available, and our work-focused lifestyles increasingly demand inactivity throughout the day. Combined, this leads to weight gain.”
Ms Ledger said the best solution to a growing obesity problem was an evidence-based combined approach that empowers people to make healthy choices.
“While it's important for individuals to make healthier choices, we know the environment we live in greatly impacts our ability to make those choices, so it’s vital that industry starts taking responsibility for this if any real change is to occur,” Ms Ledger said.
“This means less promotion of junk food, improving access to healthy food and the introduction of better food labelling. We’d also like infrastructure in place such for pedestrian-friendly environments and green spaces to encourage people to be more active.”
Ms Ledger applauded Health Minister Roger Cook’s directive for state hospitals to comply with the Healthy Options WA Policy by October 31, 2018. This policy will result in half of the food options available in state hospital outlets and vending machines being healthy with no more than 20 per cent of foods available being junk food.
“A hospital is a perfect example of an environment where a lack of choice forces the consumption of unhealthy foods, which is particularly concerning for an establishment that’s entire remit is to improve the health of its inhabitants. Ensuring healthy options are available is an important step in improving choices and outcomes for patients,” Ms Ledger said.
Notes on data:
1 Results from LiveLighter’s WA Weekly Surveillance Study, which conducted a cross-sectional survey or WA adults between 9th April and 30th September 2018.
2 The WA Department of Health last week released a report that showed more than two-thirds of WA adults (69.3%) were classified as overweight or obese. Almost one-third of adults were classified as obese (32.2%). http://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Reports-and-publications/Population-surveys
LiveLighter® is a public health education campaign which encourages West Australians to lead healthier lives by changing what they eat and drink, and being more active. Delivered by Cancer Council WA, the LiveLighter® campaign is funded by the State Government of Western Australia. For more information visit www.livelighter.com.au