Boosting our health through food

MULTI-national food companies are ignoring their responsibilities to Australian consumer health, nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton warns.

Dr Stanton joined other health advocates in Canberra on Thursday to promote a renewed focus in the Federal Government's National Food Plan on the health of the nation.

The group included the Public Health Association of Australia and Cancer Council and were meeting to nut out new ideas for boosting Australian's health through the food we eat.

While the government's National Food Plan green paper lists nutrition and health as one of its seven priorities, Dr Stanton said the plan did not go far enough.

Dr Stanton said public health needed to be a higher priority for Australia, with higher salt and sugar intake, alcohol and snack food consumption driving up obesity, cancer and chronic disease rates around the country.

While it considers health issues in its role, the document does not propose any drastic changes to the food system to help lower the costs ill health has on society, she said.

She said the public was more likely to buy cheaper, highly processed foods rather than fresh fruits and vegetables, and the system needed to change.

Dr Stanton said massive labels showing country of origin should be mandatory for all foods, so consumers could see where their food actually comes from.

She also said huge multi-national companies that were more intent on making profits were not necessarily being responsible corporate citizens when it came to nutrition.

A submission from a Victorian food health group, Food Alliance, to the food plan, highlighted the growing health issues facing the nation.

These included estimates that 75% of Australians were likely to be overweight or obese by 2025 and falling prices farmers were receiving for their produce.

FINDINGS:

  • More than 75% of Australian men and women were likely to be overweight or obese by 2025
  • The increase in obesity-associated chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, will cost the nation billions in additional healthcare
  • Food Alliance recommendations:
  • More than 70% of Australia's family farms don't earn enough to support the family on them

SOURCE: Findings referenced in the Food Alliance National Food Plan submission, 2012.



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