NACCHO #NDW2016 : Diet the single most important factor in the chronic disease epidemic facing our communities

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“Worse still, nutrition policy for Australia’s First Peoples has fallen off the radar completely.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition Strategy and Action Plan 2000-2010 provided a framework for nutrition interventions, but it was 3 years before one project officer was appointed and the strategy lapsed in 2010.

An evaluation report on the strategy was only made public this year following a freedom of information request. There is no mention of food or nutrition in COAG’s most recent Closing the Gap health strategy, nor does nutrition feature strongly in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

Yet diet remains the single most important factor in the chronic disease epidemic facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

It is time for Australia to take strong leadership in nutrition policy.

We suggest seven ways to do so, following this federal election ”

Belinda Reeve and Alexandra Jones Writing in the MJA-see full article below

“Time to commit to good food policy”

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Images from JAMIE OLIVER Ministry of Food visit

Apunipima  VIDEO Mossman Gorge

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Sharylle Ellington Manager Apunipima

Mossman Primary Health Care Centre Cape York QLD

“Collaborating with the people of Mossman Gorge Aboriginal community during NAIDOC week has been an honour.

The Good Foundation is pleased to have worked in partnership with the local Aboriginal community, Apunipima Cape York Health Council and Mossman Gorge’s governing body, Bamanga Bubu Ngadimunku (BBN) to deliver the program.

While our goal is to educate all Australians about the benefits of cooking fresh food from scratch, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are hardest hit by the impact of diet related disease.

We look forward to expanding our Indigenous program across the country and to our continued work with the government to address the gap in health and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians.”

 Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia CEO, Elise Bennetts

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Five minute full length – https://youtu.be/ogMuZXVkSs4

2 minutes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPRPjjVYqIA

30 seconds – https://youtu.be/gbyunVg9lO8

In recognition of NAIDOC week, today Jamie Oliver’s Australian home cooking program, Jamie’s Ministry of Food, has released a video which clearly illustrates the program’s ethos and commitment to working collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to Close the Gap. The Good Foundation, which delivers Jamie’s Ministry of Food in Australia, developed the program in consultation with the local Aboriginal community, elders and health council, adapting the program to local needs to ensure its success.

Supported by funding from the Queensland Government, Department of Health, Mossman Gorge is the second Aboriginal community location for Jamie Oliver’s Australian home cooking program. Jamie’s Ministry of Food developed a program tailored to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, recognising the gap that exists in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“Collaborating with the people of Mossman Gorge Aboriginal community during NAIDOC week has been an honour. While our goal is to educate all Australians about the benefits of cooking fresh food from scratch, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are hardest hit by the impact of diet related disease. We look forward to expanding our Indigenous program across the country and to our continued work with the government to address the gap in health and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians.” said Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia CEO, Elise Bennetts.

Jamie’s Ministry of Food Queensland Mobile Kitchen is currently in Mossman Gorge where it has been teaching local Aboriginal people to cook. The Good Foundation is pleased to have worked in partnership with the local Aboriginal community, Apunipima Cape York Health Council and Mossman Gorge’s governing body, Bamanga Bubu Ngadimunku (BBN) to deliver the program.

The release of the video follows the announcement of Queensland Health’s new 10 year strategy which outlines the aim to increase life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males by 4.8 years and females by 5.1 years by 2026.

The new strategy also aims to tackle obesity since it’s 2.2 times higher for children and adults from disadvantaged areas; 48% higher for remote populations (particularly females); and 39% higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The Strategy is therefore focussing on Closing the Gap in relation to nutrition education and cooking skills for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders particularly in rural and remote communities.

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said it was great to see Jamie’s Ministry of Food deliver the mobile kitchen program to the Mossman community.

“This program is all about getting everyone cooking again by teaching them the basics; how to cook and how to enjoy food in a way that benefits them and their families” he said.

“In March this year, our government committed $1.34 million to continue this valuable program in Queensland, with a key focus of that funding being to grow the program’s reach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including those in Mossman.

“We wanted to ensure groups across Queensland who really need some additional support are given the opportunity to take part in this great program and learn the right skills and practical tips to help them achieve better health”

Mr Dick said Queensland was the first state to partner with Jamie’s Ministry of Food back in 2011 and that the partnership had played an important role to improve the health of thousands of Queenslanders ever since.

“As at the end of last year, more than 27,000 Queenslanders had attended a Jamie’s Ministry of Food course, cooking demonstration or community event, so it’s great to see this program still enjoying huge success as it continues to support Queenslanders, wherever they live, to lead healthier lives,”  Mr Dick said.

Jamie’s Ministry of Food is an innovative, community-based cooking program built on Jamie’s beliefs about cooking and the associated impact on healthy living. The program has been proven to work. Research funded by Queensland Health and conducted by Deakin University and University of Melbourne showed that participants who take the course purchased and consumed more vegetables, spent less on take away foods and changed their cooking and eating behaviours. This was sustained for 6 months after completing the course.

The Good Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which has partnered with Jamie Oliver and principal partner, Woolworths to deliver Jamie’s Ministry of Food throughout Australia. Queensland Health has committed funding to The Good Foundation to support the delivery of the program state wide in Queensland. Stockland has commenced a local partnership with Jamie’s Ministry of Food Mobile Kitchen program in Queensland. The Good Guys, founding partner of Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia, is proud to support the program which is helping to build healthier and happier communities.

For bookings and more information on Jamie’s Ministry of Food visit http://www.jamiesministryoffood.com

“Time to commit to good food policy

MALNUTRITION in all its forms is one of Australia’s most critical health concerns.

Almost two in three Australian adults are overweight or obese (along with 25% of children), and poor diets and high body mass are leading contributors to Australia’s burden of disease. Unhealthy diets are a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including heart disease, cancer and diabetes, which account for 90% of all deaths in Australia.

The health risks of poor nutrition are not distributed equally. There is evidence of a socio-economic gradient in nutrition and diet-related health, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have much higher rates of chronic disease and obesity than the non-Indigenous population.

It is estimated that up to 19% of the burden of disease in Indigenous populations is due to poor diet.

While food in Australia is generally plentiful, food insecurity persists. One in 20 Australians cannot feed themselves and their families safe, healthy food without relying on charity. This rate is up to five times higher among Australia’s First Peoples, with marginalised groups such as asylum seekers and the homeless also being vulnerable to food insecurity.

Under- and over-nutrition are flip sides of the same coin, with some groups at heightened risk for both forms of malnutrition.

Dietary patterns also have profound implications for environmental health. The agricultural sector (and livestock production in particular) accounts for 10-12% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, suggesting that increasing meat consumption is a key contributor to climate change.

Climate change depletes the environmental resource base for food production, in turn decreasing crop yields and contributing to global food insecurity.

The federal government has been slow off the mark addressing the challenge of creating a healthy, equitable and sustainable food system. The 2008 report of the National Preventative Health Taskforce set out a blueprint for addressing obesity and diet-related chronic disease, but the then Labor government rejected the Taskforce’s most hard-hitting recommendations for encouraging healthy eating and improving dietary health.

Industry self-regulation of food marketing to children was endorsed over stronger statutory measures, the idea of food taxes was swiftly dismissed, and the voluntary Health Star Rating labelling system was selected over the “traffic-light” model recommended by the government’s own commissioned independent review.

On the plus side, progress was made through the establishment of the Australian National Preventative Health Agency and dedicated funding to new, community-based prevention initiatives. Work also began on a National Food Plan, which included a focus on nutrition and food system sustainability.

Unfortunately, food and nutrition policy in Australia appears to be a case of “two steps forward, one step back,” with the incoming Coalition government disbanding the Australian National Preventative Health Agency and removing almost $400 million in funding for state-based prevention efforts. The nutrition component of the National Food Plan was hived off into a separate National Nutrition Policy, which has yet to see the light of day.

In the areas of product reformulation, food marketing to children and interpretive food labelling, government continues to prefer voluntary, industry-led initiatives, some of which have laudable objectives but have been poorly implemented and enforced.

This may be unsurprising given the economic power of Australia’s food industry. Making up almost one third of Australia’s total manufacturing sector, the industry is able to wield significant power in food and nutrition’s “regulatory space”, often at the expense of more effective regulatory measures to improve the accessibility of healthy foods and beverages, and encourage healthy eating.

Worse still, nutrition policy for Australia’s First Peoples has fallen off the radar completely.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition Strategy and Action Plan 2000-2010 provided a framework for nutrition interventions, but it was 3 years before one project officer was appointed and the strategy lapsed in 2010.

An evaluation report on the strategy was only made public this year following a freedom of information request. There is no mention of food or nutrition in COAG’s most recent Closing the Gap health strategy, nor does nutrition feature strongly in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023. Yet diet remains the single most important factor in the chronic disease epidemic facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Australia’s poor performance on nutrition stands in stark contrast to the many countries around the world experimenting with innovative and progressive policies to promote healthy diets and prevent chronic NCDs.

Among these are 14 countries implementing taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, including high-profile examples Mexico and the UK, statutory restrictions on unhealthy food marketing to children in Ireland and South Korea, and mandatory restrictions on the salt content of certain processed foods in South Africa and Argentina.

Increasingly, national efforts are being driven by action at an international level, with the World Health Organization and the United Nations creating a global framework for chronic disease prevention, including measurable, time-bound targets, and monitoring and implementation mechanisms.

The incoming federal government has the opportunity to find surer footing on food and nutrition policy.

Given the health, social, and economic costs at stake, it remains incumbent upon the public health community to rally support for a more proactive and effective policy response.

Inaction is costing our community already, with overweight and obesity estimated to cause $8.6 billion a year in direct and indirect costs, such as absenteeism and foregone tax revenue. We can also challenge voters, communities and public health advocates to unite around a more comprehensive policy platform for improving nutrition and preventing diet-related NCDs.

It is time for Australia to take strong leadership in nutrition policy.

We suggest seven ways to do so, following this federal election:

•    Establish a dedicated, comprehensive policy framework for improving nutrition and diet-related health, with specific, measurable targets on key nutrition indicators, accompanied by monitoring and accountability mechanisms.
•    Ensure universal nutrition education for all primary school aged children – regardless of their socio-economic situation or geographic location.
•    Renew focus on nutrition and dietary health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including dedicated, national-level Indigenous nutrition policy, and structural and regulatory changes to improve the accessibility and affordability of healthy food.
•    Tighten urban planning laws to encourage access to fresh food vendors while easing the density of junk food outlets.
•    Strengthen regulation of food reformulation, interpretive labelling, and food marketing to children.
•    Introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, with funds going towards an appropriate public health cause such as improving childhood nutrition or public dental care.
•    Invest in cost-effective nutrition and NCD-prevention policies and programs, accompanied by tracking and monitoring of the impact of spending on population health.

Australia is a global leader in tobacco control, and we can do it again in relation to food governance. But to move from laggard to leader we need a federal government with the fortitude to tackle vested industry interests, to untangle the complex relationships between sustainability, equity and nutrition, and to commit to policies and laws that enable all Australians to access fresh, nutritious and sustainable food.

Dr Belinda Reeve is a lecturer in law at the University of Sydney. Alexandra Jones is a lawyer leading the George Institute’s Food Policy Division’s program on regulatory strategies to prevent diet-related disease. They are lead organisers of the Food Governance Conference, a collaborative endeavor between the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney Law School, the George Institute for Global Health, and the Cancer Research Network. The conference will be held at Sydney Law School on 1-3 November this year, and will cover a range of topics related to nutrition and sustainability, equity and innovation in the food system. The call for abstracts is open until Friday 15 July. The authors would like to thank Dr Josephine Gwynn and Dr Sandro Demaio for their comments on various parts of this piece.

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