NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Nutrition : FYI delegates #WCPH2017 Aboriginal traditional foods key role in protecting against #chronicdisease

“We have long understood that native animal and plant foods are highly nutritious.

There is no evidence that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had diabetes or cardiovascular disease whilst maintaining a diet of traditional foods, and it has been shown that reverting to a traditional diet can improve health.

In addition to demonstrating significant health benefits, traditional foods remained an integral part of identity, culture and country for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, while also alleviating food insecurity in remote communities.”

Menzies researcher and lead author Megan Ferguson see research paper in full below

Photo above :  Frank told us how the ‘old people’, which literally means his ancestors, lived under the trees, gathered food and fished in the swamp. He said that during the dry, they used to build a sort of rock stepping-stone bridge to access the island in the swamp where they would gather magpie goose eggs.

Photo above  : With a focus to improve community nutrition, over 2000 bush tucker trees and conventional fruits were planted at the Barunga Community, south of Katherine.

Aboriginal people have been using bush tucker for over 50,000 years, but it was hoped the plantation would lure more children onto a free feed of fruit, instead of a portion of chips. Some of the bush tucker fruits being planted include the Black Plum, Bush Apple, Cocky Apple, Red Bush Apple, and White Currant

 ” The bush tucker diet was high in nutritional density, offering good levels of protein, fibre, and micronutrients. It was low in sugar and glucose, and lower in insulin than similar western foods, and the hunter-gatherer lifestyle meant plenty of physical activity. Some animal foods such as witchetty grubs and green ants were high in fat, but most native land animals were lean, especially when compared with the domesticated animals eaten today.

It was this knowledge of the land that sustained the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory for tens of thousands of years “

Your Complete Guide to Bush Tucker in the Northern Territory

Traditional food trends in remote Northern Territory communities

The majority of Aboriginal people living in remote Northern Territory communities are regularly using traditional foods in their diets according to research from Menzies School of Health Research published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health see below

The paper, Traditional food availability and consumption in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory reports that a nutritious diet including the consumption of traditional foods plays a key role in protecting against chronic disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities.

‘Surveys conducted in remote Northern Territory (NT) communities revealed almost 90% of people consumed a variety of traditional foods each fortnight.

‘In relation to food insecurity we also found that 40% of people obtained traditional food when they would otherwise go without food due to financial hardship or limited access to stores,’ Ms Ferguson said.

The list of traditional food reported during the research is extensive and includes a range of native animal foods including echidna, goanna, mud mussel, long-neck turtle and witchetty grubs and native plant foods including green plum, yam and bush onion.

The 20 remote NT communities surveyed reported that traditional foods were available year round.

‘There is still much to be learnt about the important contribution traditional foods makes to nutrition and health outcomes. We need to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to understand more about contemporary traditional food consumption. This is crucial to informing broader policy that affects where people live, how they are educated, employment and other livelihood opportunities,’ Ms Ferguson said.

The article will be available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1753-6405

Traditional food availability and consumption in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, Australia

Objective: To explore availability, variety and frequency consumption of traditional foods and their role in alleviating food insecurity in remote Aboriginal Australia.

Methods: Availability was assessed through repeated semi-structured interviews and consumption via a survey. Quantitative data were described and qualitative data classified.

Results: Aboriginal and non-Indigenous key informants (n=30 in 2013; n=19 in 2014) from 20 Northern Territory (NT) communities participated in interviews. Aboriginal primary household shoppers (n=73 in 2014) in five of these communities participated in a survey. Traditional foods were reported to be available year-round in all 20 communities. Most participants (89%) reported consuming a variety of traditional foods at least fortnightly and 71% at least weekly. Seventy-six per cent reported being food insecure, with 40% obtaining traditional food during these times.

Conclusions: Traditional food is consumed frequently by Aboriginal people living in remote NT.

Implications for public health: Quantifying dietary contribution of traditional food would complement estimated population dietary intake. It would contribute evidence of nutrition transition and differences in intakes across age groups and inform dietary, environmental and social interventions and policy. Designing and conducting assessment of traditional food intake in conjunction with Aboriginal leaders warrants consideration.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have experienced a rapid nutrition transition since colonisation by Europeans 200 years ago, similar to that experienced by other Indigenous populations globally.1 The traditional food system provided a framework for society and was interwoven with culture, a framework that is now eroded by a food system with no distinct cultural ties or values.2 Early reports of Aboriginal people prior to European contact indicate that they were lean and healthy, attributable to an active lifestyle and a nutrient-dense diet characterised by high protein, polyunsaturated fat, fibre and slowly digested carbohydrates.3 The diet was sourced from a wide range of uncultivated plant foods and wild animals and was influenced by the seasons and geographical location; although there were differences in the food sources by location, there were similarities in the overall nutrient profile.3,4 Since colonisation, this nutritious diet has been systematically replaced by high intakes of refined cereals, added sugars, fatty (domesticated) meats, salt and low intakes of fibre and several micronutrients.5–7

There is no evidence that Aboriginal people maintaining traditional diets had diabetes or cardiovascular disease.4 However, the integration of non-traditional foods into the contemporary diet of Aboriginal Australians has led to an excessive burden of lifestyle-related chronic diseases.3 A nutritious diet, such as that afforded by the consumption of traditional foods, plays a key role in protecting against these conditions. Short-term reversion to a traditional diet has demonstrated significant weight loss, improvement in risk factors of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and improvements in glucose tolerance and other abnormalities related to type 2 diabetes mellitus among a small group of Aboriginal Australians.8,9

High levels and a wide variety of polyunsaturated fatty acids, in the context of overall lower fat content, found in native animal foods are one of the benefits of a traditional diet; reported to reduce the risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases.3,4Traditional foods remain an integral part of the contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander diet strongly linked to identity, culture and country. An analysis of national data collected in 2008 reported that 72% of participants aged over 15 years living in remote communities reported having harvested wild foods in the past 12 months;10 and yet there is a dearth of information on the contribution of traditional foods to the contemporary diet of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.7,11 Most available information is also limited to describing harvesting behaviours and preferences.11 A recent environmental study, for example, in two Australian tropical river catchments reported more than one harvesting trip per fortnight for households in which 42 different animal and plant species were collected over a two-year period. This study also described the food-sharing networks that are likely to play a crucial role in alleviating food insecurity;12 of which 31% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities report to experience.13Some researchers estimate that more than 90% of foods are purchased and traditional foods contribute less than 5% to dietary energy intake,5 others argue that in some contexts the proportion of purchased foods is much lower.14

This variation likely relates to the diverse study contexts, including where people live, with higher intakes of traditional foods suggested to be consumed in small outstations rather than communities and townships.14 Until recently, most estimates of population level dietary intake have been limited to store-purchased food and drinks,5–7 an extremely valuable source of data, though one the authors acknowledge is limited by a lack of information on traditional food intake. The 2011–13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS), which included a 24-hour dietary recall, provided the first set of dietary intake data of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nationally, though it did not aim to provide an estimate of traditional food intake.13This paper explores informant interview and self-report data relating to the: i) availability, ii) frequency and iii) variety of traditional food consumption. It also reports on the role of traditional food in alleviating food insecurity. For this study, traditional food included all native and introduced animal and plant foods procured for consumption. It was conducted as part of the SHOP@RIC study.15

Methods

Sample

A survey of contextual factors, defined as factors that may influence food purchases from the community store, was conducted in each of the 20 communities participating in the SHOP@RIC study, in the Northern Territory (NT), Australia.15 This included a rapid appraisal of traditional food availability through an interview with two key informants who had resided in the community for the previous 12 months. The study was not designed to collect comprehensive data on seasonal availability of traditional foods.

The cohort participating in the customer survey of the SHOP@RIC study15 was drawn from five very remote Aboriginal communities in the NT randomly selected from 20 study communities. All five communities had one food store, most had community-based food programs such as school nutrition and aged care meal programs and all were considered to have access to a traditional food supply from their surrounding lands. Households in each of the five communities were randomly selected and an eligible adult (i.e. community resident, plans to reside in the community for 12 months, >18 years, purchases food from the community store, and is the primary shopper) was invited to participate in a series of three surveys; pre-, post- and six-months post intervention. On completion of each survey, a $20 gift of fruit, vegetables and water was provided. The study aimed to include 150 customers in the cohort.

Data collection

The survey of contextual factors was conducted in English by a research team member, either in person or by telephone, at a time convenient to the key informant. Data were collected at two time points. As early as possible in 2014 and 2015, participants were interviewed about events in the previous year, including traditional food hunted or gathered. Initially, contact was made with the Shire/Council Services Manager of each community, who was invited to participate and recommend another suitable local person to complete the interview. The manager was selected due to their overall knowledge of a broad range of factors affecting store purchases, including population movement, community income and provision of essential services. If this manager could not be contacted, contact was made with someone in the community who was already associated with the main project to determine the most suitable people in the community to respond to these questions.

The customer survey was conducted by a research team, which included an Aboriginal community-based researcher trained in the conduct of the study. Interviews were conducted in English, with translation provided by the local researcher where necessary. The third survey (six months post intervention) was conducted from May 2014 to December 2014, in one community every two months in line with the main study design.15 This survey included a measure of frequency and variety consumption of traditional food in the preceding two weeks and questions to elicit information on the role of these foods in alleviation of food insecurity, the results of which are presented in this paper. A short script introduced the set of questions, noting that these included all hunted and gathered foods, which might be referred to by participants as traditional foods or bush foods, and included introduced species. The questions and response options were: How often do you eat traditional foods? (never, 1 day a fortnight, 1 day a week, 2–3 days a week, on most days, everyday). What type of traditional foods have you eaten? In the last 12 months, were there any times that you ran out of food, and couldn’t afford to buy more? (yes, no). If yes, how often did this happen? (once per week, once every 2 weeks, once per month, don’t know). Are there days when you don’t have enough food and feel hungry? (yes, no). What things can you do to get food on these days? Pictorial resources, with examples of foods known to be consumed across Central Australia and the Top End of the NT, grouped into similar food types, served as prompts. This study did not aim to collect data at the species level as nutrient analysis was not planned. These measures were based on a systematic review of the literature and expert consensus, and were pilot tested in line with the development of the overall customer survey.

Data analysis

The data from the contextual factor survey was entered into an Access database and exported to Excel for analysis. One author (CG) collated the data and verified with MF. Traditional food sources recalled being available over the calendar year and/or at different seasonal periods were described. The quantitative data from the customer survey were described, using Stata Version 14.0 (Stata, College Station, Texas, USA). The qualitative data from the customer survey were managed in an Access database and exported to Excel. One author (CB) allocated each individual food to one of eight categories,16 clarifying any difficult classification of foods with JB and MF.

Ethics

The study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the NT Department of Health and Menzies School of Health Research, the Central Australian Human Research Ethics Committee and Deakin University Human Research Ethics Committee. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants.

Results

Participants

At least one interview was conducted in each of the 20 study communities for the years 2013 or 2014. In 2013, 30 participants across 19 of the 20 study communities contributed to the contextual data; the participants held roles in the local council, government welfare agency, store, health centre, aged care facility, school and training and employment program. In 2014, 19 participants across 15 of the 20 study communities contributed to the repeat survey, holding roles in the local council, government welfare agency, store, health centre, community men’s program, research institute and training and employment program or were a community resident not in paid employment. In some cases, mobility from employed roles and from the community prevented repeat interview with the same informants each year.

Seventy-three participants aged 18 years or over, most of whom were female (97%), over the age of 35 years (69%) and not in paid employment (56%) contributed to the third customer survey. The participants differed marginally from the original cohort (92% female, 64% >35 years of age, 62% not in paid employment).

Annual availability of traditional food

Traditional foods were consistently reported for all 20 communities to be available year round. Informants reported hunting activity, with someone from all communities recalling a variety of animal foods that were available over the year or that hunting and fishing occurred. Informants from 15 communities across the Top End and Central Australia reported a variety of plant foods available in the previous 12 months. In four of the five communities where no plant foods were reported, it should be noted that data were only able to be collected for one of the two time points.

The survey did not intend to collect data on environmental or other impacts on the availability of the traditional food supply. It is worth noting that informants from three Top End communities and one customer survey participant from a fourth Top End community reported that goanna were in limited numbers or no longer available due to the impact of cane toads. In two Top End communities it was said that turkey were scarce or no longer available and in one of these communities, that the availability of yams had reduced due to environmental damage caused by introduced animals.

Frequency of traditional food consumption

Most (89%) participants reported consuming traditional foods on at least a fortnightly basis, in the two weeks preceding the survey. Seventy-one per cent of participants reported consuming traditional foods at least weekly.

Variety of traditional foods consumed

The variety of traditional foods reported to be available across 20 communities and consumed by participants in the five communities is reported in Table 1. There were a range of different native animal and plant foods and a smaller number of introduced animal foods recalled.

Table 1. List of the varietya of traditional foods reported to be available in communities and to be consumed in the preceding two weeks by a customer cohort.
Community data set (n=20) Participant data set (n=73)
  1. a: Foods listed as per participant response to an open-ended question which did not specify how to identify foods (e.g. as food category [e.g. seafood], food [e.g. fish] or species [e.g. barramundi]). The adjective ‘bush’ and ‘wild’ was provided at times with some foods (e.g. bush turkey and turkey). Occasionally participants used both local and English language; only the English language name is reported here.
  2. b: Echidna was often referred to as porcupine; buffalo as bullocky; cow as beef, cattle or killer.        c: The term shellfish was not used by participants in the customer cohort.
Animals
Native land animals Bandicoot, carpet snake, duck (diving duck), echidna,b emu, goanna (perentie), goose (magpie goose), honey, honey ant, kangaroo, lizard, possum, turkey, wallaby Black-headed snake, duck, echidna,b emu, goanna, goose, kangaroo, turkey
Introduced land animals Buffalo,b cow,b pig Buffalo,b cow,b pig
Fish or seafood Crab (mud crab), crocodile, crocodile egg, dugong, fish (barramundi, black bream, bream, catfish, fresh- and saltwater fish), shellfish (large creek mussel, long bum, mud mussel, mussel, oyster), prawn, stingray, turtle (long-neck turtle, sea turtle, short-neck turtle), turtle egg, water goanna Crab (mud crab), fish (barramundi, black bream, catfish, red snapper), mangrove worm, shellfishc (cone shell, long bum, mud mussel, oyster, periwinkle), stingray, turtle (long-neck turtle, sea turtle, short-neck turtle), turtle egg, water goanna
Witchetty grub Witchetty grubs Witchetty grub
Sugar bag Sugar bag
Plants
Fruit or berry Apple, banana, berry (blackcurrant, conga berry), cashew tree fruit, fruit (not specified), plum (black plum, green plum and sugar plum), sultana Apple, banana, berry, plum (black plum, green plum), raisin, sultana, tomato
Yam or root vegetables Potato, yam Potato, yam (budgu)
Other plants Bean, onion, tomato Bulb (sandy beach bulb), onion
Seed or nut Cashew tree nut Kora (seed)

The role of traditional food consumption in alleviating food insecurity

Most participants (76%) reported experiencing food insecurity. Of the coping strategies identified, 40% related to obtaining traditional food during times they went without food and 53% were borrowing food or money during these times.

Discussion

This exploratory study demonstrates that traditional food makes an important contribution to the contemporary diet of Aboriginal people living in remote NT communities. In 20 remote communities, traditional foods were reported to be available year round. A high frequency and wide variety of traditional foods were reported to be consumed by participants across five remote communities. In this exploratory study, more animal foods than plant foods were recalled to have been consumed and commonly a few animal foods predominated. Accessing traditional foods was reported to be a means of alleviating food insecurity for almost half the people who experienced food insecurity.

There are limited records of the traditional diet of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people prior to European colonisation. Available reports describe gender roles, with women providing daily sustenance through collecting plant foods and small animals and men hunting large animals on a less regular basis, with the balance of plant and animal foods determined by factors including location and season.3 Studies of Canadian Aboriginal people suggest a high intake of traditional animal foods as part of the contemporary diet.17,18 This study suggests that an understanding of the contribution that animal (native and introduced) and plant foods make to the contemporary diet among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia is warranted.

The frequent self-reported consumption of animal sources of traditional foods, suggests that contemporary population-level dietary assessment using store purchasing data has the potential to over-estimate nutrient deficiencies, particularly of protein, a concern we have previously raised.7,19 In Aboriginal populations elsewhere, it is estimated that traditional foods might contribute anywhere from 10% to 36% of energy and disproportionately to protein and other micronutrients,17,20–23 representing an important dietary contribution. Even weekly or fortnightly consumption of a nutrient-dense food, such as that reported to be consumed in this study, is likely to make an important contribution to the diet.11 Introduced land animal foods, such as buffalos, cattle and pigs, were reported to be hunted and consumed by participants. The contribution of introduced land animals may be influenced by availability and in some areas may be well integrated into the traditional food system.5 In the absence of volume consumption data, it is not possible to draw conclusions on the dietary contribution of introduced land animals. Although these foods contribute to dietary protein intake, the higher quantity of fat and poorer fatty acid profile, compared with native animal foods, is worth noting.3

We have demonstrated that it is possible to measure frequency consumption and to some extent variety of traditional foods consumed – in fact, our impression was that people enjoyed talking about these foods. We acknowledge the limitations of traditional dietary assessment methods, including additional challenges in remote contexts such as the practice of sharing community meals,12,24–27 though also consider that attributes such as the high regard given to traditional food, may aid assessment.24,27,28 Studies have demonstrated how standard tools can be modified to assess individual dietary intake with Aboriginal populations29 and lessons can be learnt from previous dietary survey work in remote Australian Aboriginal communities.15,26

Comprehensive assessment of traditional food consumption would serve a number of purposes. These data would provide an understanding of the different types of traditional foods consumed and the contribution they make to the contemporary diet of Aboriginal people across Australia. This information would assist in developing targeted strategies to ensure sustainable access and increased consumption of traditional foods. This study was not designed to examine differences in consumption of traditional foods across age, gender and other population groups. International studies in Aboriginal populations have found higher intakes of nutrient-poor store foods in young people and higher intakes of traditional foods in older people.17,22,23,30,31 In addition to contributing to improved health through dietary intake, the socio-cultural contribution and opportunity for physical activity that traditional foods provide is important to recognise.21,32,33 The impact that climate change, changes in the natural environment and development policies regarding land and sea use may have on traditional food use and thus health and wellbeing is critical to understand.12,32,34 Although not designed to collect information on environmental and other impacts on traditional food, this study suggests that introduced animals are affecting the availability of small animal and plant foods, at least in the Top End of the NT.

In addition to being nutritionally superior, traditional foods are considered to be a low-monetary form of sustenance, important in a context where people generally have low incomes and where the cost of food is high.12,18,20,35 Similar to our findings, 40% of coastal urban-dwelling Aboriginal people reported increased access of wild resources at times of financial hardship.32 In a small Western Australian outstation, hunting for various types of wild foods has been shown to respond differently to market and economic scarcity.33 The harvest of traditional foods and food sharing networks reduce the reliance on the market economy,10,12 important in a context where high numbers of people report to be food insecure. Others share our opinion that further understanding the role of traditional foods in the diet and in alleviating food insecurity36 is crucial in an environment where few, if any, significant changes are occurring in terms of the high cost of food and prevailing low-income levels.

Data regarding the contribution of traditional foods in the diet and role in livelihoods of Aboriginal people living in remote communities will be important in relation to broader environmental and social policy making. Evidence of the contribution of traditional foods to the contemporary diet of remote Aboriginal people is crucial to informing broader government policy that affects where people live, how they are educated, employment and other livelihood opportunities.10 It has been suggested that the use of traditional foods may be gaining interest nationally and internationally, and in addition to being good for human and environmental health, could provide economic and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.37 There is a developing interest in sustainability of traditional foods in environmental protection efforts,12 such as working with Aboriginal people to develop adaption strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change on the environment and traditional food supply.32,34 Similarly, traditional food data are used internationally to maintain and improve availability and access to traditional foods as a result of global warming and environmental insults, such as contamination.17,18,21

There are three limitations related to our survey methodology. First, this study relies on self-report data, which is considered to be biased by recall and reporting. To address this, the data were collected through a facilitated recall methodology,38 which improves recall through the use of locally relevant prompts and questions.39 While respondents were asked to recall intake in the preceding two weeks only, it is possible that foods consumed beyond this timeframe were recalled. Second, the individual dietary data was collected from participants in only five remote NT communities; however, these were randomly selected from a larger sample of 20 communities and were spread across the NT. Third, the data were collected based on recall of a two-week period from participants in each community. Normally, frequency consumption data would be collected over a longer period to account for factors such as seasonality, although it has been collected in some studies for shorter periods.17 It was not within the scope of this study to collect longer-term data. The data were, however, collected over a 10-month period from the five communities, two months apart and have been supported by annual availability of traditional foods data from key informants across 20 communities. The key limitation in relation to the semi-structured interviews was that the key informants did not always include an Aboriginal person from each community and so reports of annual availability of traditional foods are likely to be conservative.

Implications

Although focused on availability, frequency and variety, this study provides an important step in improving non-Aboriginal knowledge of the contribution of traditional food in the contemporary diet of Aboriginal Australians living in remote Australia. This study suggests that it is possible to collect data regarding the contribution of traditional foods to diet. These data would complement population-level data collected through community store sales. Data of the nutrient profiles of many traditional foods exists and continues to be built on in Australia. Through a strong collaboration with Aboriginal people, methods for conducting individual dietary assessment of traditional food intake could be developed, which could include methodologies such as repeated 24-hour recall, visual recall40 and food frequency questionnaires, resulting in validated tools for ongoing use in this context. Our limited data, combined with national and international evidence suggest that priorities should include understanding differences across ages, gender, education and employment status and across remote, regional and urban areas in Australia. It is crucial that these processes align with developments in the broader environmental and societal work in this area.

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to community residents who provided data and acknowledge that the ownership of Aboriginal knowledge and cultural heritage is retained by the informant. The authors thank Prof Kylie Ball, Anthony Gunther, Elaine Maypilama and Carrie Turner who contributed to the development of the customer survey, those who assisted with pilot testing the customer survey and Federica Barzi who assisted with analyses. The Stores Healthy Options Project in Remote Indigenous Communities was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (1024285). The contents of the published material are solely the responsibility of the individual authors and do not reflect the views of the NHMRC. Julie Brimblecombe is supported through a National Heart Foundation Fellowship (100085

 

Aboriginal Health #obesity : 10 major health organisations support #sugartax to fund chronic disease and obesity #prevention

Young Australians, people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and socially disadvantaged groups are the highest consumers of sugary drinks.

These groups are also most responsive to price changes, and are likely to gain the largest health benefit from a levy on sugary drinks due to reduced consumption ,

A health levy on sugary drinks is not a silver bullet – it is a vital part of a comprehensive approach to tackling obesity, which includes restrictions on children’s exposure to marketing of these products, restrictions on their sale in schools, other children’s settings and public institutions, and effective public education campaigns.

We must take swift action to address the growing burden that overweight and obesity are having on our society, and a levy on sugary drinks is a vital step in this process.”

Rethink Sugary Drink campaign Download position statement

health-levy-on-sugar-position-statement

Read NACCHO previous articles Obesity / Sugartax

Amata SA was an alcohol-free community, but some years earlier its population of just under 400 people had been consuming 40,000 litres of soft drink annually.

See NACCHO Story

SBS will be showing That Sugar Film this Sunday night 2 April at 8.30pm.

There will be a special Facebook live event before the screenings

 ” The UK’s levy on sugar sweetened beverages will start in 2018, with revenue raised to go toward funding programs to reduce obesity and encourage physical activity and healthy eating for school children.

We know unhealthy food is cheaper and that despite best efforts by many Australians to make healthier choices price does affect our decisions as to what we buy.”

Sugar tax adds to the healthy living toolbox   see full article 2 below

 ” Alarmingly, with overweight becoming the perceived norm in Australia, the number of people actively trying to lose weight is declining.   A recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that nearly 64 per cent of Australians are overweight or obese.  This closely mirrors research that indicates around 66 per cent of Americans fall into the same category.

With this apparent apathy towards personal health and wellbeing, is it now up to food and beverage companies to combat rising obesity rates?

Who is responsible for Australia’s waistlines?  Article 3 Below

Ten of Australia’s leading health and community organisations have today joined forces to call on the Federal Government to introduce a health levy on sugary drinks as part of a comprehensive approach to tackling the nation’s serious obesity problem.

The 10 groups – all partners of the Rethink Sugary Drink campaign – have signed a joint position statement calling for a health levy on sugary drinks, with the revenue to be used to support public education campaigns and initiatives to prevent chronic disease and address childhood obesity.

This latest push further strengthens the chorus of calls in recent months from other leading organisations, including the Australian Medical Association, the Grattan Institute, the Australian Council of Social Services and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Craig Sinclair, Chair of the Public Health Committee at Cancer Council Australia, a signatory of the new position statement, said a health levy on sugary drinks in Australia has the potential to reduce the growing burden of chronic disease that is weighing on individuals, the healthcare system and the economy.

“The 10 leading health and community organisations behind today’s renewed push have joined forces to highlight the urgent and serious need for a health levy on sugary drinks in Australia,” Mr Sinclair said.

“Beverages are the largest source of free sugars in the Australian diet, and we know that sugary drink consumption is associated with increased energy intake and in turn, weight gain and obesity. Sugary drink consumption also leads to tooth decay.

“Evidence shows that a 20 per cent health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages in Australia could reduce consumption and prevent thousands of cases of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke over 25 years, while generating $400-$500m in revenue each year to support public education campaigns and initiatives to prevent chronic disease and address childhood obesity.

“The Australian Government must urgently take steps to tackle our serious weight problem. It is simply not going to fix itself.”

Ari Kurzeme, Advocacy Manager for the YMCA, also a signatory of the new position statement, said young Australians, people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and socially disadvantaged groups have the most to gain from a sugary drinks levy.

The Rethink Sugary Drink alliance recommends the following actions to tackle sugary drink consumption:
• A public education campaign supported by Australian governments to highlight the health impacts of regular sugary drink consumption
• Restrictions by Australian governments to reduce children’s exposure to marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages, including through schools and children’s sports, events and activities
• Comprehensive mandatory restrictions by state governments on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages (and increased availability of free water) in schools, government institutions, children’s sports and places frequented by children
• Development of policies by state and local governments to reduce the availability of sugar-sweetened beverages in workplaces, government institutions, health care settings, sport and recreation facilities and other public places.

To view the position statement click here.

Rethink Sugary Drink is a partnership between major health organisations to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage Australians to reduce their consumption. Visit www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au for more information.

The 10 organisations calling for a health levy on sugary drinks are:

Stroke Foundation, Heart Foundation, Kidney Health Australia, Obesity Policy Coalition, Diabetes Australia

the Australian Dental Association, Cancer Council Australia, Dental Hygienists Association of Australia,  Parents’ Voice, and the YMCA.

Sugar tax adds to the healthy living toolbox 

Every day we read or hear more about the so-called ‘sugar tax’ or, as it should be more appropriately termed, a ‘health levy on sugar sweetened beverages’.

We have heard arguments from government and health experts both in favour of, and opposed to this ‘tax’. As CEO of one the state’s leading health charities I support the state government’s goal to make Tasmania the healthiest population by 2025 and the Healthy Tasmania Five Year Strategic Plan, with its focus on reducing obesity and smoking.

However, it is only one tool in the tool box to help us achieve the vision.

Our approach should include strategies such as restricting the marketing of unhealthy food and limiting the sale of unhealthy food and drink products at schools and other public institutions together with public education campaigns.

Some of these strategies are already in progress to include in our toolbox. We all have to take some individual responsibility for the choices we make, but as health leaders and decision makers, we also have a responsibility to create an environment where healthy choices are made easier.

This, in my opinion, is not nannyism but just sensible policy and demonstrated leadership which will positively affect the health of our population.

 Manufacturers tell us that there are many foods in the marketplace that will contribute to weight gain and we should focus more on the broader debate about diet and exercise, but we know this is not working.

A recent Cancer Council study found that 17 per cent of male teens drank at least one litre of soft drink a week – this equates to at least 5.2 kilograms of extra sugar in their diet a year.

Evidence indicates a significant relationship between the amount and frequency of sugar sweetened beverages consumed and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  We already have 45,000 people at high risk of type 2 diabetes in Tasmania.

Do we really want to say we contributed to a rise in this figure by not implementing strategies available to us that would make a difference?

I recall being quite moved last year when the then UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said that he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t act on reducing the impact of sugary drinks.

“I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament, doing this job and say to my children’s generation… I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem with sugary drinks…..But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing.”

The UK’s levy on sugar sweetened beverages will start in 2018, with revenue raised to go toward funding programs to reduce obesity and encourage physical activity and healthy eating for school children. We know unhealthy food is cheaper and that despite best efforts by many Australians to make healthier choices price does affect our decisions as to what we buy.

In Mexico a tax of just one peso a litre (less than seven cents) on sugary drinks cut annual consumption by 9.7 per cent and raised about $1.4 billion in revenue.

Similarly, the 2011 French levy has decreased consumption of sugary drinks, particularly among younger people and low income groups.

The addition of a health levy on sugar sweetened beverages is not going to solve all problems but as part of a coordinated and multi-faceted approach, I believe we can effect change.

  • Caroline Wells, is Diabetes Tasmania CEO

3. Who is responsible for Australia’s waistlines? from here

Alarmingly, with overweight becoming the perceived norm in Australia, the number of people actively trying to lose weight is declining.   A recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that nearly 64 per cent of Australians are overweight or obese.  This closely mirrors research that indicates around 66 per cent of Americans fall into the same category.

With this apparent apathy towards personal health and wellbeing, is it now up to food and beverage companies to combat rising obesity rates?

Unfortunately it is not clear cut.  While Big Food and Big Beverage are investing in healthier product options, they also have a duty to shareholders to be commercially successful, and to expand their market share. The reality is that unhealthy products are very profitable.  However companies must balance this against the perception that they are complicit in making people fatter and therefore unhealthier with concomitant disease risks.

At the same time, the spectre of government regulation continues to hover, forcing companies to invest in their own healthy product ranges and plans to improve nutrition standards.

The International Food and Beverage Alliance (a trade group of ten of the largest food and beverage companies), has given global promises to make healthier products, advertise food responsibly and promote exercise. More specific pledges are being made in developed nations, where obesity rates are higher and scrutiny is more thorough.

However companies must still find a balance between maintaining a profitable business model and addressing the problem caused by their unhealthy products.

An example of this tension was evident when one leading company attempted to boost the sale of its healthier product lines and set targets to reduce salt, saturated fat and added sugar.  The Company also modified its marketing spend to focus on social causes.  Despite the good intentions, shareholders were disgruntled, and pressured the company to reinstate its aggressive advertising.

What role should governments play in shaping our consumption habits and helping us to maintain healthier weights? And should public policy be designed to alter what is essentially personal behaviour?

So far, the food and beverage industry has attempted to avoid the burden of excessive regulation by offering relatively healthier product lines, promoting active lifestyles, funding research, and complying with advertising restrictions.

Statistics indicate that these measures are not having a significant impact.  Subsequently, if companies fail to address the growing public health burden, governments will have greater incentive to step in.  In Australia, this is evident in the increased political support for a sugar tax.  The tax has been debated in varying forms for years, and despite industry resistance, the strong support of public health authorities may see a version of the tax introduced.

Already, Australia’s food labelling guidelines have been amended and tightened, and a clunky star rating system introduced to assist consumers to make healthier choices. Companies that have worked to address and invest in healthy product ranges must still market them in a responsible way. Given the sales pressure, it is tempting for companies to heavily invest in marketing healthier product ranges.  However they have an obligation under Australian consumer law to ensure products’ health claims do not mislead.

We know that an emboldened Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking action against companies that deliberately mislead consumers.  The food industry is firmly in the its sights, with a case currently underway against a leading food company over high sugar levels in its products. This shows that the Regulator will hold large companies to account, and push for penalties that ‘make them sit up and take notice.’

At a recent Consumer Congress, ACCC Chair Rod Sims berated companies that don’t treat consumers with respect.  He maintains that marketing departments with short-term thinking, and a short-sighted executive can lead to product promotion that is exaggerated and misleading.  All of which puts the industry on notice.

With this in mind, it is up to Big Food and Big Beverage to be good corporate citizens.  They must uphold their social, cultural and environmental responsibilities to the community in which they seek a licence to operate, while maintaining a strong financial position for their shareholders. It is a difficult task, but there has never been a better time for companies to accept the challenge.

Eliza Newton, Senior Account Director

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #KHW17 #Kidneysfirst :Ten bad food habits that will kill you

 ‘ Almost half of heart-related deaths are caused by 10 bad ­eating habits.

Diets high in salt or sugary drinks are responsible for ­thousands of deaths from heart disease, stroke and type 2 ­diabetes, according to a study. Scientists also blamed a lack of fruit and vegetables and high ­levels of ­processed meats.

Researchers looked at all 702,308 deaths from heart ­disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes in the US in 2012 and found that 45 per cent were linked with “suboptimal consumption” of 10 types of nutrients. They mapped data on dietary habits from population surveys, along with estimates from previous research of links between foods and disease, on to data about the deaths to come up with the figures.”

Originally published in The Australian

This is our last NACCHO post supporting Kidney Health Week / Day

Further NACCHO reading

Sugar Tax     Obesity     Diabetes    Nutrition/Healthy Foods

The highest proportion of deaths, at 9.5 per cent, was linked with eating too much salt, while a low intake of nuts and seeds was linked with 8.5 per cent.

Eating processed meats was linked with 8.2 per cent of deaths and a low amount of seafood omega-3 fats with 7.8 per cent. Low intake of vegetables ­accounted for 7.6 per cent and low intake of fruit 7.5 per cent.

Sugary drinks were linked with 7.4 per cent, a low intake of whole grains with 5.9 per cent, low polyunsaturated fats with 2.3 per cent and high unprocessed red meats with 0.4 per cent.

The research, published in the journal JAMA, also found men’s deaths were more likely to have links to poor diet than women’s.

Key Points

Question  What is the estimated mortality due to heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes (cardiometabolic deaths) associated with suboptimal intakes of 10 dietary factors in the United States?

Findings  In 2012, suboptimal intake of dietary factors was associated with an estimated 318 656 cardiometabolic deaths, representing 45.4% of cardiometabolic deaths. The highest proportions of cardiometabolic deaths were estimated to be related to excess sodium intake, insufficient intake of nuts/seeds, high intake of processed meats, and low intake of seafood omega-3 fats.

Meaning  Suboptimal intake of specific foods and nutrients was associated with a substantial proportion of deaths due to heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes.

Abstract

Importance  In the United States, national associations of individual dietary factors with specific cardiometabolic diseases are not well established.

Objective  To estimate associations of intake of 10 specific dietary factors with mortality due to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes (cardiometabolic mortality) among US adults.

Design, Setting, and Participants  A comparative risk assessment model incorporated data and corresponding uncertainty on population demographics and dietary habits from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1999-2002: n = 8104; 2009-2012: n = 8516); estimated associations of diet and disease from meta-analyses of prospective studies and clinical trials with validity analyses to assess potential bias; and estimated disease-specific national mortality from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Exposures  Consumption of 10 foods/nutrients associated with cardiometabolic diseases: fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains, unprocessed red meats, processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), polyunsaturated fats, seafood omega-3 fats, and sodium.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Estimated absolute and percentage mortality due to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes in 2012. Disease-specific and demographic-specific (age, sex, race, and education) mortality and trends between 2002 and 2012 were also evaluated.

Results  In 2012, 702 308 cardiometabolic deaths occurred in US adults, including 506 100 from heart disease (371 266 coronary heart disease, 35 019 hypertensive heart disease, and 99 815 other cardiovascular disease), 128 294 from stroke (16 125 ischemic, 32 591 hemorrhagic, and 79 578 other), and 67 914 from type 2 diabetes.

See for full text

The authors, from Cambridge University and two US institutions, said that their results should help to “identify priorities, guide public health planning and inform strategies to alter dietary habits and improve health”.

In an editorial, Noel Mueller and Lawrence Appel, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said: “Policies that affect diet quality, not just quantity, are needed … There is some precedence, such as from trials of the Mediterranean diet plus supplemental foods, that modification of diet can reduce cardiovascular disease risk by 30 per cent to 70 per cent.”

Keeping your kidneys healthy

It is important to maintain a healthy weight for your height. The food you eat, and how active you are, help to control your weight.

Healthy eating tips include:

  • Eat lots of fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrain bread and rice.
  • At least once a week eat some lean meat such as chicken and fish.
  • Look at the food label and try to choose foods that have a low percentage of sugar and salt and saturated fats.
  • Limit take-away and fast food meals.

Exercise regularly

It’s recommended that you do at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week  – exercise leads to increased strength, stamina and energy.

The key is to start slowly and gradually increase the time and intensity of the exercise. You can break down any physical activity into three ten-minute bursts, which can be increased as your fitness improves

Drink plenty of fluids and listen to your thirst.

If you are thirsty, make water your first choice. Water has a huge list of health benefits and contains no kilojoules, is inexpensive and readily available.

Sugary soft drinks are packed full of ‘empty kilojoules’, which means they contain a lot of sugar but have no nutritional value.

Some fruit juices are high in sugar and do not contain the fibre that the whole fruit has.

The role of the kidneys is often underrated when we think about our health.

In fact, the kidneys play a vital role in the daily workings of your body. They are so important that nature gave us two kidneys, to cover the possibility that one might be lost to an injury.

We can live quite well with only one kidney and some people live a healthy life even though born with one missing. However, with no kidney function death occurs within a few days!

The kidneys play a major role in maintaining your general health and wellbeing. Think of them as a very complex, environmentally friendly, waste disposal system. They sort non-recyclable waste from recyclable waste, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while also cleaning your blood.

Most people are born with two kidneys, each one about the size of an adult fist, bean-shaped and weighing around 150 grams each. The kidneys are located at both sides of your backbone, just under the rib cage or above the small of your back. They are protected from injury by a large padding of fat, your lower ribs and several muscles.

Your blood supply circulates through the kidneys about 12 times every hour. Each day your kidneys process around 200 litres of blood. The kidneys make urine (wee) from excess fluid and unwanted chemicals or waste in your blood.

Urine flows down through narrow tubes called ureters to the bladder where it is stored. When you feel the need to wee, the urine passes out of your body through a tube called the urethra. Around one to two litres of waste leave your body each day as urine.

Resource Library

Kidneys are the unsung heroes of our bodies and perform a number of very important jobs:

  • Blood pressure control – kidneys keep your blood pressure regular.
  • Water balance – kidneys add excess water to other wastes, which makes your urine.
  • Cleaning blood – kidneys filter your blood to remove wastes and toxins.
  • Vitamin D activation – kidneys manage your body’s production of this essential vitamin, which is vital for strong bones, muscles and overall health.

All this makes the kidneys a very important player in the way your body works and your overall health.

NACCHO Aboriginal #kidneysfirst Health #KHW17: International research finds food subsidies and taxes improve dietary choices

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The global food system is causing a staggering toll on human health. And this is very costly, both in terms of real healthcare expenses and lost productivity.

Our findings suggest that subsidies and taxes are a highly effective tool for normalizing the price of foods toward their true societal costs. 

This will not only prevent disease but also reduce spiraling healthcare costs, which are causing tremendous strain on both private businesses and government budgets.”

Senior author Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the Friedman School

kidney-week

Here are some sobering facts on #obesity from a report by @KidneyHealth as we mark #KidneyHealthWeek
bit.ly/2mrsBRJ
#KHW17

2025

#Kidneyfirst Aboriginal Health Key points

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to have end stage kidney disease and be hospitalised or die with chronic kidney disease than non-Indigenous people.4

The greater prevalence of chronic kidney disease in some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is due to the high incidence of traditional risk factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking, in addition to higher levels of inadequate nutrition, alcohol abuse, streptococcal throat and skin infection, poor living conditions and low birth weight, which is linked to reduced nephron development.4

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a higher burden of disease; two and a half times that of non-Indigenous people.

A large part of the burden of disease is due to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and chronic kidney disease.

This higher burden can be reduced by identifying chronic disease earlier and through the management of risk factors and the disease itself. See more about the management of risk factors here.

A new systematic review and meta-analysis finds that lowering the cost of healthy foods significantly increases their consumption, while raising the cost of unhealthy items significantly reduces their intake.

Food subsidies and taxes significantly improve dietary choices

Interventions that alter food prices can improve people’s diets, leading to more healthy choices and fewer unhealthy choices

While everyone has a sense that food prices matter, the magnitude of impact of food taxes and subsidies on dietary intakes, and whether this varies by the food target, has not been clear. For the review, a team of researchers identified and pooled findings from a total of 30 interventional and longitudinal studies, including 11 that assessed the effect of higher prices (taxation) of unhealthy foods and 19 that assessed the effect of lower prices (subsidies) of healthy foods.

The findings were published in PLOS ONE on March 1.

“To date, evidence on effectiveness of fiscal policies on diet has mostly come from cross-sectional studies, which cannot infer causality. This is why we evaluated studies that examined the relationship between food price and diet over time,” said co-first author Ashkan Afshin, M.D., former postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University and now at the University of Washington. “Our results show how 10 to 50 percent changes in price of foods and beverages at checkout could influence consumers’ purchasing behaviors over a relatively short period of time.”

In the pooled analysis, each 10 percent decrease in price of fruits and vegetables increased their consumption by 14 percent, and each 10 percent decrease in price of other healthy foods increased their consumption by 16 percent. A change in price of fruits and vegetables was also associated with body mass index (BMI): for every 10 percent price decrease, BMI declined by 0.04 kg/m2.

Conversely, each 10 percent price increase of sugar-sweetened beverages and unhealthy fast foods decreased their consumption by 7 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Every 10 percent price increase in unhealthy foods and drinks was associated with a trend toward lower BMI (per 10 percent price increase: -0.06 kg/m2), but this did not achieve statistical significance.

By merging findings from 23 interventional and 7 prospective cohort studies, the researchers evaluated relationships between the change in the price of specific foods or beverages and the change in their intake. Studies evaluated people’s reported intake or data on sales of foods and beverages. The study populations included children, adults, or both; and countries included the United States, the Netherlands, France, New Zealand, and South Africa. Price change interventions were conducted in various settings such as cafeterias, vending machines and supermarkets. The findings were centrally pooled in a meta-analysis.

Co-first author is Jose Penalvo, Ph.D., M.Sc., Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University. Additional authors on this study are Liana Del Gobbo, Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine; Jose Silva, M.D., Boston Medical Center; Melody Michaelson, M.Sc., Tufts University School of Medicine; Martin O’Flaherty, M.D., Ph.D., University of Liverpool; Simon Capewell, M.D., D.Sc., University of Liverpool; Donna Spiegelman, D.Sc., Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and Goodarz Danaei, M.D., D.Sc., Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

This work was supported by awards from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (HL098048, HL115189) and from The New York Academy of Sciences’ Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science. For conflicts of interest disclosure, please see the study.

Afshin, A., Penalvo, J., Del Gobbo, L., Silva, J., Michaelson, M., O’Flaherty, M., Capewell, S., Spiegelman, D., Danaei, G., Mozaffarian, D. (2017, March 1). The prospective impact of food pricing on improving dietary consumption: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS ONE. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0172277

About the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University

The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The school’s eight degree programs – which focus on questions relating to nutrition and chronic diseases, molecular nutrition, agriculture and sustainability, food security, humanitarian assistance, public health nutrition, and food policy and economics – are renowned for the application of scientific research to national and international policy.

NACCHO Aboriginal #prevention Health : #ALPHealthSummit : With $3.3 billion budget savings on the table, Parliament urged to put #preventivehealth on national agenda

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 ” Recently the Federal Government has spoken in favour of investment in preventive health.

 In an address to the National Press Club in February this year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, “in 2017, a new focus on preventive health will give people the right tools and information to live active and healthy lives”.

Health Minister Greg Hunt echoed that sentiment on 20 February announcing the Government was committed to tackling obesity.

Prevention 1st, however, argues the need for a more comprehensive, long-term approach to the problem. Press Release

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NACCHO was represented at the #ALPHealthSummit by Chair Matthew Cooke pictured above with Stephen Jones MP

Leading health organisations are calling on the Commonwealth to address Australia’s significant under-investment in preventive health and set the national agenda to tackle chronic disease ahead of Labor’s National Health Policy Summit today.

Chronic disease is Australia’s greatest health challenge, yet many chronic diseases are preventable, with one third of cases traced to four modifiable risk factors: poor diet, tobacco use, physical inactivity and risky alcohol consumption.

Adopting preventive health measures would address significant areas flagged as critical by the both major parties, including ensuring universal access to world-class healthcare, preventing and managing chronic disease, reducing emergency department and elective surgery waiting times, and tackling health inequalities faced by Indigenous Australians.

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Prevention 1st – a campaign led by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF Australia), and Alzheimer’s Australia – is urging the ALP to adopt the group’s Pre-Budget submission recommendations as part of the party’s key health policy framework.

FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn says it is up to federal policymakers to address Australia’s healthcare shortfalls and that Labor has the perfect opportunity to reignite its strong track record and lead the way in fixing the country’s deteriorating investment in preventive healthcare.

“Australia’s investment in preventive health is declining, despite chronic disease being the leading cause of illness in Australia. Chronic disease costs Australian taxpayers $27 billion a year and accounts for more than a third of our national health budget. The ALP has both the opportunity and a responsibility as the alternate government to set the national agenda in the preventive healthcare space. Ultimately, however, it falls to the Government of the day to show leadership on this issue,” said Mr Thorn.

Its Pre-Budget submission 2017-18, Prevention 1st identifies a four-point action plan targeting key chronic disease risk factors.

Prevention 1st has called for Australia to phase out the promotion of unhealthy food and beverages, and for long overdue national public education campaigns to raise awareness of the risks associated with alcohol, tobacco, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition. Under the proposal, these measures would be supported by coordinated action across governments and increased expenditure on preventive health.

The costed plan also puts forward budget savings measures, recommending the use of corrective taxes to maximise the health and economic benefits to the community. Taxing products appropriate to their risk of harm will not only encourage healthier food and beverage choices but would generate much needed revenue – around $3.3 billion annually.

With return on investment studies showing that small investments in prevention are cost-effective in both the short and longer terms, and the opportunity to contribute to happier and healthier communities, Consumers Health Forum of Australia Chief Executive Officer Leanne Wells urged both the Australian Government and Opposition to take advantage of the opportunity to stem the tide of chronic disease.

“There is an obvious benefit in adopting forward-thinking on preventive healthcare to reduce pressure on the health budget and the impact of preventable illness and injury on society,” Ms Wells said.

The ALP National Health Policy Summit will be held at Parliament House in Canberra on Friday 3 March.


View the submission

View media release in PDF

Aboriginal Health #Sugartax debate : Sugar consumption is critical to reducing chronic health conditions, including diabetes says NACCHO

sugar-tax

“The high costs of transporting food and groceries to remote communities mean that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in these areas are already paying inflated prices for these types of products, and all other grocery items.

“These communities are also less able to pay higher costs and have limited access to alternatives, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables – which, because of the long distances they need to be transported, are often past their prime and overpriced when they arrive,”

“Reducing sugar consumption is critical to reducing chronic health conditions, including diabetes; however, there needs to be more work done on how these issues would be overcome before NACCHO could support any tax-based approach such as a sugar tax.”

Chair Matthew Cooke from peak Indigenous health body, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) has expressed reservations about the tax to MJA InSight.

See NACCHO Previous obesity articles HERE

 “sugary drinks were “killing the population” in remote communities, after the senate heard evidence of an “astounding” level of soft drink sales at remote community stores.

Senator Scullion said he has been working with remote stores to restrict the sale of larger bottles of soft drink.

“I’ve been trying to negotiate the two litre and 1.5 litres off the shelves completely,”

“It’s a difficult thing but the evidence shows that whatever portion you buy, a child will drink oneand-a-half litres.”

More recently he went to a community store where water was free, but despite trying to “hide the full-strength coke” it was the popular choice.

He gave one example where a remote community store was drawing half of its total profits from soft drink sales.

“It was the most expensive liquid in that store and everyone went straight there,”

Indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion,

 ” TAXES on unhealthy foods, not subsidies on fruit and vegetables, are effective at reducing the burden of obesity, new research suggests, amid renewed clamour for a sugary drinks tax.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have found that a subsidy on fresh fruit and vegetables would not on its own produce health gains, because it would lead to an undesirable increase in sodium and energy intake.”

Authored by Sarah Colyer from MJA Insight

However, adding a subsidy to a package of taxes on sugar, fat, salt and sugar-sweetened beverages could be effective, they wrote. The combination of taxes plus the subsidy could avert 470 000 disability-adjusted life years and save $3.4 billion from the health budget, the modelling study found.

The study drew on detailed New Zealand price–elasticity data – which track variations in product uptake with changes in product prices – to quantify disease risk reductions associated with each change in risk factor exposure.

A sugar tax would be most cost-effective, the study found, followed by a salt tax, a saturated fat tax and a sugar-sweetened beverages tax.

Writing in the journal PLOS Medicine, Dr Linda Cobiac and colleagues said that their findings added to the “growing evidence of large health benefits and cost-effectiveness of using taxes and regulatory measures to influence the consumption of healthy foods”.

The findings about the subsidy might at first appear counterintuitive, they said.

“However, using price subsidies or discounts as an incentive to purchase more fruits and vegetables may have the effect of increasing real income available to buy food, including unhealthy products, and could therefore lead to an overall increase in dietary measures such as saturated fat, sodium, or total energy intake,” they wrote.

The federal government is facing growing pressure from public health advocates to tax sugary drinks, with the Australian Greens pledging to introduce a bill on the measure later in 2017.

Writing in the MJA, the University of Sydney’s Professor Stephen Colagiuri urged the government to make the tax a priority as part of a multicomponent strategy against obesity.

That call was echoed in a separate report released last week by the Obesity Policy Coalition, whose member organisations include Cancer Council Victoria, Diabetes Australia (Victoria) and Deakin University.

In his MJA article, Professor Colagiuri cited the introduction of Mexico’s sugary drinks tax in 2014, which was followed by a 12% decline in the consumption of taxed beverages and a spike in bottled water consumption.

“The ongoing impact of [Mexico’s] tax has been challenged with new data suggesting a small increase in sales of SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] in 2015, but still lower than the increase in pre-tax sales,” he wrote.

“Arguments that an SSB tax is an ineffective means to reduce consumption are inconsistent with food industry claims of potential damage and job losses, which instead may point to the industry believing that a tax would substantially impact consumption.”

Professor Colagiuri noted that Australia was among the largest global markets for sugar-sweetened beverages, with males aged 4–30 years drinking an average 750 mL (two cans) per day.

“Government pays for health services and consequently has a right and duty to address externalities to promote and protect public health,” he wrote.

However, the federal government last week continued its resistance to any form of sugar tax, with health minister Greg Hunt commenting: “We’re committed to tackling obesity, but increasing the family’s weekly shop at the supermarket isn’t the answer.”

Decrying the proposed tax as a “nanny state” response, assistant minister for health, Dr David Gillespie, noted that Denmark had repealed its sugar tax and dropped plans for a tax on saturated fats.

Indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion, said in 2016 that sugary drinks were “killing the population” in remote communities, after the senate heard evidence of an “astounding” level of soft drink sales at remote community stores.

David Butt, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance told MJA InSight that his organisation supported “the possibility of taxing sugar-sweetened beverages and using the revenue to subsidise access to healthier food options”.

Professor Andrew Wilson, director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the University of Sydney, said that compared with taxing sugar per se or salt, the proposed tax on sugary drinks had “the virtue of being fairly easy to define”.

“However, these drinks are so cheap to make that the tax will need to be substantial,” he added.

A recent report by the Grattan Institute recommended that sugar-sweetened beverages be taxed at a rate of 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar, increasing the price of a 2-litre bottle of soft drink by 80 cents. This would raise about $500 million a year, according to the Grattan Institute, which predicted a resultant 15% drop in consumption of sugary drinks and a small decrease in obesity rates.

Professor Wilson stressed that any taxation approach should be “part of a package that includes education and support for good nutrition, promotion and facilitation of physical activity, with particular focus on school-aged and older teens, planning considerations and, possibly for some areas and groups, subsidies for fruit and vegetables”.

Dr Cobiac agreed, commenting: “Our modelling shows that the potential health benefits of using taxes and subsidies to improve dietary choices and the nutritional quality of our foods in Australia are huge, but ultimately, they are just one of a number of measures that are needed to tackle obesity.”

Dr Cobiac noted that 13 other countries had announced taxes on unhealthy foods or sugar drinks in the past 5 years.

“It was true that Denmark had revoked its policies,” she said; however, she added that it was likely that as early initiators “they did not fully foresee or plan for dealing with the resulting backlash from the food industry”.

“We will never know what effect the taxes would have had in Denmark; they were repealed before there was a chance to properly evaluate them,” Dr Cobiac said.

“While many people want to eat better and lose weight, it is not easy to sustain the changes in behaviour when we live in an environment where unhealthy foods are widely available, heavily marketed and cheap.

“That environment is unlikely to change without a really comprehensive strategy to tackle the obesity problem.”

Please leave your comment below

7 thoughts on “Sugar tax: what you need to know”

    1. Anonymous says:

      This debate has been going around and around for far too long. In the meantime, overweight and obesity rates are increasing. Public health advocates need to change tack and get on with their ‘real’ jobs to make a positive difference. Scrap the idea of additional taxes on processed foods. And as for ‘modelling studies’ to underpin an evidence base to guide action. We know what to do: listen to people demonstrating ‘Lived Experience’.

    1. Andrew says:

      I second the previous comment. “Modelling” is not evidence. Let’s see real world evidence first — does a tax on sugar actually reduce obesity rates? That is the only evidence that counts.

      As a side point, imposing a “sugar tax” will cause food manufacturers to substitute sugar with other sweeteners, e.g. stevia. The long term health implications of stevia (and other additives) are unknown. Of course public health “experts” love to pretend that they are omniscient and infallible, but some caution is warranted. Let’s not repeat the massive public health failures of the past, such as the notorious food pyramid which was based on the flimsiest of evidence.

    1. Dr Rosemary Stanton says:

      We do know what to do, but the political power of the processed food industry means we get obstruction to anything that might decrease sales of its products. Junk food and drinks contribute 35% of adults’ and over 40% of children’s energy intake. That is the elephant in the room and we need multiple actions to tackle it. A sugar tax is one that is simple to implement, especially applied to drinks.

      Even more importantly, we need to stop promoting junk food and drinks. That means stopping advertising these products during TV programs that children watch. It means sporting teams and sports heros not acting as walking billboards. It needs bans on advergames for children where product placement of junk foods and drinks are visible for the time spent playing the game – which may be 30 minutes. It needs schools to stop selling children junk food and drinks from the school canteen (which negates anything they might learn in the classroom).

      We also need to talk about foods rather than nutrients. The Dietary Guidelines talk about foods. Sadly, almost no one follows them – as shown by the fact that less than 7% eat even the minimal amount of vegetables and fruit recommended, and junk food consumption is so high.

    1. Roger McMaster-Fay MRCOG FRANZCOG says:

      Oh great, another tax and it worked so well on cigarettes!. We are one of the most highly taxed countries in the world! We need a new paradigm to tackle this problem and we doctors should be able to come up with one. What about tax deductions for people who loose weight?

    1. Dr. ARC says:

      Lot’s of salient comments from Rosemary and Roger. I do not believe that drinks alone are the major cause of obesity. As always if you put more calories in than you need or use in exercise the extra calories are stored as fat, period! We need to return to the era of good home cooking and stop eating out at expensive restaurants and quick take away options which are loaded with fat and sugar. Then and only then can we begin to tackle the problem of obesity.

    1. Virginia Fazio says:

      What will the food industry use to replace ingredients that are taxed? Instead of sugar in foods will they use starches and intense sweeteners? Metabolically very little difference between starch and sugar. Will saturated fat be replaced with unsaturated fats that may be less heat stable and produce byproducts may have other health risks? Will consumers go back to adding more salt during cooking and at the table to processed foods with lower salt levels? Research needs to be on the whole diet outcomes if some processed foods carry an additional tax. We know that how the food industry meet consumer demand for low cholesterol and low saturated fat foods did not always result in a “healthy” food. Perhaps as a community we need improved cooking and gardening skills so we rely less on highly processed foods.

  1. Andrew Jamieson says:

    Education, education, education!! Where is ‘health’ on the syllabus at our schools? What public education is there on nutrition despite the valiant efforts of the likes of Rosemary Stanton. We might as well tax cars even more more as we kill lots of people with them! And it has been well pointed out that sugar alone is not responsible for our health woes. Logically we need more put GST on food, however no government would seriously consider this

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #obesity : What is the #sugartax and who reckons it’s a good idea?

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 ” JUNK food would be banned from schools and sports venues, and a sugar drink tax introduced, under a new blueprint to trim the nation’s waistline.

The 47-point blueprint also includes a crackdown on using junk food vouchers as rewards for sporting performance and for fundraising.

State governments would be compelled to improve the healthiness of foods in settings controlled by them like hospitals, workplaces and government events.

And they would have to change urban planning rules to restrict unhealthy food venues and make more space for healthy food outlets. “

Download the 47-point blueprint Report here :

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 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Obesity #junkfood : 47 point plan to control weight problem that costs $56 billion per year

 

” In 2014-15, 63.4% of Australian adults were found by the National Health Survey to be overweight or obese. In response to Australia climbing up the ladder of the most obese countries in the world, professor Stephen Colagiuri, a diabetes expert at the University of Sydney, has urged the government to introduce a sugar tax to dissuade people from consuming sugary foods.”

Sophie Heizer Crikey intern

But what if you live in a place where you don’t have easy access to fresh food? What if the Macca’s down the road is within walking distance, but you have to jump in the car and drive for miles to get to the nearest supermarket? That’s called a food desert, and the sugar tax could have a bigger impact on people who live in those areas.

What is the sugar tax?

At this point, it is a recommendation from some health experts, which would place a levy on sugary drinks in order to mitigate obesity rates.

A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) says that a tax of 20% or more results in the drop of soft drink sales, which they say would also cut healthcare costs if it succeeded in improving health outcomes.

The Grattan Institute has suggested a tax of 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar, and calculated that obesity costs Australians $5.3 billion a year. The savings they have projected would mean an extra $500 million for the budget.

Is there support for the sugar tax?

The WHO called for a tax on sugary drinks across the world in October 2016 to curb the effects of sugary drinks on health.

Many health researchers also advocate for the tax as well. Dr Belinda Reeve from the University of Sydney writes that there needs to be more things done at the same time to reduce obesity rates and the risk of diabetes, but the tax could be effective in Australia, as the tobacco tax has been.

The Greens have released a statement saying that if the government doesn’t act on the issue, they will draft a private senator’s bill and introduce it to the Senate by the end of 2017.

Who is against it?

The Turnbull government, Labor, and senators Pauline Hanson and Derryn Hinch have all rejected the idea of imposing a sugar tax.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt has said the government was taking action in other ways: “We’re committed to tackling obesity, but increasing the family’s weekly shop at the supermarket isn’t the answer.”

Pauline Hanson said she would not support the tax because she believes it’s high time people take responsibility for what they put in their mouths, and Derryn Hinch said the tax would be unfair and unworkable.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the opposition had no plans for a sugar tax, but said it was probably time to “toughen up advertising restrictions around junk food at peak periods when the little eyeballs are on the TV and getting all the wrong messages about food and healthy eating”.

What is a food desert?

A food desert is an area where there are no fresh fruit or vegetable outlets within a 500-metre radius. They are also defined by limited access to shops that sell healthy foods, coupled with an abundance of fast-food takeaway options within easy walking distance. These areas leave people disenfranchised by lack of access to affordable, healthy food and at a greater risk of obesity and the development of diabetes.

There have been a number of food deserts identified in Australia: Braybrook, Maidstone and West Footscray/Kingsville have been identified in Victoria, areas of western Sydney including Blacktown (where residents are three times more likely to develop diabetes) and Mount Druitt and even in wealthy areas of Canberra. Research commissioned by Anglicare and Red Cross showed that there was insufficient access to affordable and nutritionally adequate food in inner suburbs such as Kingston, Red Hill and Fyshwick, as well as Narrabundah Longstay Caravan Park, Belconnen, Weston Creek and newer suburbs in the Gungahlin region.

How would the sugar tax affect people living in food deserts?

The same kind of sugar tax was proposed in the UK. It was met with heavy resistance from the seemingly conservative lobby group, the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which cited the ineffectiveness of the tax in Mexico, the chief executive stating:

“It is astonishing that the government is pressing ahead with this pernicious tax when the evidence clearly suggests that it will simply not affect consumption in any meaningful way. As with any regressive tax, this will only raise living costs for hard-pressed families, already struggling with big tax bills. Politicians must look at the evidence and ignore the High Priests of the Nanny State in the public health lobby, and abolish the Sugar Tax before it is too late.”

Food deserts are, in particular, an issue for people of low socio-economic status (SES) and where there are people with mobility issues in the community. The tax will undeniably hit the poor and those living in food deserts harder because more of their income goes towards poor quality food, but there is evidence from studying the effectiveness of the tax in Mexico that it does decrease spending on unhealthy food products for everyone.

A research paper by PLOS One, which also supports the 20% hike in tax on sugar, states:

“We note that Australians of low SES are disproportionately affected by high rates of diet-related illnesses and are therefore likely to experience greater dietary improvements as a result of a tax on SSBs. Inequitable aspects are likely to be further ameliorated if revenue was used to support healthy eating initiatives and subsidies on healthy foods for low-SES households.”

This means the sugar tax could actually be beneficial to low-SES households in food deserts, as a result of both a shift in eating habits, and a freeing up of space in the health budget to rectify access issues in relation to cost and geography.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Obesity #junkfood : 47 point plan to control weight problem that costs $56 billion per year

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 ” JUNK food would be banned from schools and sports venues, and a sugar drink tax introduced, under a new blueprint to trim the nation’s waistline.

The 47-point blueprint also includes a crackdown on using junk food vouchers as rewards for sporting performance and for fundraising.

State governments would be compelled to improve the healthiness of foods in settings controlled by them like hospitals, workplaces and government events.

And they would have to change urban planning rules to restrict unhealthy food venues and make more space for healthy food outlets. “

Originally published as Move to ban junk food in schools

Updated Feb 21 with press release from Health Minister Greg Hunt See below

The Australian Government is taking action to tackle the challenge of obesity and encourage all Australians to live healthy lives

“In my view, we should be starting to tax sugary drinks as a first step. Nearly every week there’s a new study citing the benefits of a sugary drinks tax and and nearly every month another country adopts it as a policy. It’s quickly being seen as an appropriate thing to do to address the obesity epidemic.”

A health economist at the Grattan Institute, Stephen Duckett, said the researchers had put together a careful and strong study and set of tax and subsidy suggestions.see article 2 below  

One hundred nutrition experts from 53 organisations working with state and federal bureaucrats have drawn up the obesity action plan to control the nation’s weight problem that is costing the nation $56 billion a year.

The review of state and federal food labelling, advertising and health policies found huge variation across the country and experts want it corrected by a National Nutrition Policy.

The nation is in the grip of an obesity crisis with almost two out of three (63 per cent) Australian adults, and one in four (25 per cent) Australian children overweight or obese.

Obesity is also one of the lead causes of disease and death including cancer.

More than 1.4 million Australians have Type 2 diabetes and new cases are being diagnosed at the rate of 280 per day.

Stomach, bowel, kidney, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, oesophagus, endometrium, ovary, prostate cancer and breast cancer in postmenopausal women have all been linked to obesity.

Half of all Australians are exceeding World Health Organisation’s recommendations they consume less than 13 teaspoons or sugar a day with most of the white stuff hidden in drinks and processed food, the Australian Bureau of Statistics Health Survey shows.

Teenage boys are the worst offenders consuming 38 teaspoons of sugar a day which makes up a quarter of their entire calorie intake.

Dr Gary Sacks from Deakin University whose research underpins the obesity control plan says it’s time for politicians to put the interests of ordinary people and their health above the food industry lobbyists

“It’s a good start to have policies for restricting junk foods in school canteens, but if kids are then inundated with unhealthy foods at sports venues, and they see relentless junk food ads on prime-time TV, it doesn’t make it easy for them to eat well,” he said.

That’s why the experts want a co-ordinated national strategy that increases the price of unhealthy food using taxes and regulations to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising.

The comprehensive examination of state and federal food policies found Australia is meeting best practice in some areas including the Health Star Rating food labelling scheme, no GST on basic foods and surveys of population body weight.

While all States and Territories have policies for healthy school food provision they are not all monitored and supported, the experts say.

Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition and a partner in the research, said a piecemeal approach would not work to turn the tide of obesity in Australia.

“When nearly two-thirds of Australians are overweight or obese, we

know that it’s not just about individuals choosing too many of the wrong foods, there are strong environmental factors at play – such as the all pervasive marketing of junk food particularly to children,” she said.

The new policy comes as a leading obesity experts says a tax on sugary drinks in Australia would be just as logical as existing mandatory controls on alcohol and tobacco

Professor Stephen Colagiuri from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre claims a ‘sugar tax’ help individuals moderate their sugary beverage intake, in much the same way as current alcohol, tobacco, and road safety measures like seat belts and speed restrictions preventing harmful behaviours.

The UK will introduce a sugar tax next year and in Mexico a sugar tax introduced in 2014 has already reduced consumption of sugary drinks by 12 per cent and increased the consumption of water.

Australian politicians have repeatedly dismissed a sugar tax on the grounds it interferes with individual rights.

However, Professor Colagiuri says “individual rights can be equally violated if governments fail to take effective and proportionate measures to remove health threats from the environment in the cause of improving population health.”

Originally published as Move to ban junk food in schools

ARTICLE 2 Australia would save $3.4bn if junk food taxed and fresh food subsidised, says study 

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O as published in the Guardian

Australian researchers say subsidising fresh fruit and vegetables would ensure the impact of food taxes on the household budget would be negligible. Photograph: Dave and Les Jacobs/Getty Images/Blend Images

Health experts have developed a package of food taxes and subsidies that would save Australia $3.4bn in healthcare costs without affecting household food budgets.

Linda Cobiac, a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s school of public health, led the research published on Wednesday in the journal Plos Medicine.

Cobiac and her team used international data from countries that already have food and beverage taxes such as Denmark, but tweaked the rate of taxation and also included a subsidy for fresh fruit and vegetables so the total change to the household budget would be negligible.

They then modelled the potential impact on the Australian population of introducing taxes on saturated fat, salt, sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages, and a subsidy on fruits and vegetables. Their simulations found the combination of the taxes and subsidy could result in 1.2 additional years of healthy life per 100 people alive in 2010, at a net cost-saving of $3.4bn to the health sector.

“Few other public health interventions could deliver such health gains on average across the whole population,” Cobiac said.

The sugar tax produced the biggest gains in health, followed by the salt tax, the saturated fat tax and the sugar-sweetened beverage tax.

The fruit and vegetable subsidy, while cost-effective when added to the package of taxes, did not lead to a net health benefit on its own, the researchers found.

The researchers suggest introducing a tax of $1.37 for every 100 grams of saturated fat in those foods with a saturated fat content of more than 2.3%, excluding milk; a salt tax of 30 cents for one gram of sodium above Australian maximum recommended levels; a sugar-sweetened beverage tax of 47 cents a litre; a fruit and vegetable subsidy of 14 cents for every 100 grams; and a sugar tax of 94 cents for every 100ml in ice-cream with more than 10 grams of sugar per 100 grams; and 85 cents for every 100 grams in all other products.

The taxes exclude fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and many dairy products.

“You need to include both carrots and sticks to change consumer behaviour and to encourage new taxes,” Blakely said. “That’s where this paper is cutting edge internationally.

“We have worked out the whole package of taxes with minimal impact on the budget of the household, so you can see an overall gain for the government. The government would be less interested in the package if it was purely punitive, but this provides subsidies and savings to health spending that could be reinvested back into communities and services.”

He said taxing junk foods also prompted food manufacturers to change their products and make them healthier to avoid the taxes.

“For those who might say this is an example of nanny state measures, let’s consider that we don’t mind asbestos being taken out of buildings to prevent respiratory disease, and we’re happy for lead to be taken from petrol. We need to change the food system if we are going to tackle obesity and prevent disease.”

A health economist at the Grattan Institute, Stephen Duckett, said the researchers had put together a careful and strong study and set of tax and subsidy suggestions. “This is a very good paper,” he said.

“In my view, we should be starting to tax sugary drinks as a first step. Nearly every week there’s a new study citing the benefits of a sugary drinks tax and and nearly every month another country adopts it as a policy. It’s quickly being seen as an appropriate thing to do to address the obesity epidemic.”

A Grattan Institute report published in November found introducing an excise tax of 40 cents for every 100 grams of sugar in beverages as part of the fight against obesity would trigger a 15% drop in the consumption of sugary drinks. Australians and New Zealanders consume an average of 76 litres of sugary drinks per person every year.

In a piece for the Medical Journal of Australia published on Monday, the chair of the Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges, Prof Nicholas Talley, wrote that “the current lack of a coordinated national approach is not acceptable”.

More than one in four Australian children are now overweight or obese, as are more than two-thirds of all adults.

Talley proposed a six-point action plan, which included recognising obesity as a chronic disease with multiple causes. He also called for stronger legislation to reduce unhealthy food marketing to children and to reduce the consumption of high-sugar beverages, saying a sugar-sweetened beverage tax should be introduced.

“There is evidence that the food industry has been a major contributor to obesity globally,” he wrote. “The health of future generations should not be abandoned for short-term and short-sighted commercial interests.”

Press Release 21 February Greg Hunt Health Minister

The Australian Government is taking action to tackle the challenge of obesity and encourage all Australians to live healthy lives.

PDF printable version of Turnbull Government committed to tackling obesity – PDF 269 KB

The Turnbull Government is taking action to tackle the challenge of obesity and encourage all Australians to live healthy lives.

But unlike the Labor Party, we don’t believe increasing the family grocery bill at the supermarket is the answer to this challenge.

We already have programmes in place to educate, support and encourage Australians to adopt and maintain a healthy diet and to lead an active life – and there’s more to be done.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister flagged that the Government will soon be announcing a new focus on preventive health that will give people the right tools and information to live active and healthy lives. This will build on the significant work already underway.

Yesterday, we launched the second phase of the $7 million Girls Make Your Move campaign to increase physical activity for girls and young women. This is now being rolled out across Australia.

Our $160 million Sporting Schools program is getting kids involved in physical activity. Already around 6,000 schools across the country have been involved – with many more to come. This is a great programme that Labor wants to axe.

Our Health Star Rating system helps people to make healthier choices when choosing packaged foods at the supermarket and encourages the food industry to reformulate their products to be healthier.

The Healthy Weight Guide website provides useful advice including tips and tools to encourage physical activity and healthy eating to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

The Healthy Food Partnership with the food industry and public health groups is increasing people’s health knowledge and is supporting them to make healthier food and drink choices in order to achieve better health outcomes.

We acknowledge today’s report, but it does not take into account a number of the Government programs now underway.

Obesity and poor diets are complex public health issue with multiple contributing factors, requiring a community-wide approach as well as behaviour change by individuals. We do not support a new tax on sugar to address this issue.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are already effectively discounted as they do not have a GST applied.

Whereas the GST is added to the cost of items such as chips, lollies, sugary drinks, confectionery, snacks, ice-cream and biscuits.

We’re committed to tackling obesity, but increasing the family’s weekly shop at the supermarket isn’t the answer

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #closingtheGap : #Indigenous great-grandmother reverses type 2 #diabetes and loses 45kg with exercise, #healthy eating

Maxine Risk-Sumner in 2010.

When Ngarrindjeri great-grandmother Maxine Risk-Sumner was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2008, she began a journey that saw her lose 45 kilograms and turn her life around.

Ms Risk-Sumner told 891 ABC Adelaide‘s Mornings program she learned she was sick after being hospitalised with a “mystery” illness.

“The doctor soon discovered my blood sugar was high and he said to me, ‘did you know you were diabetic?’,” she said.

Ms Risk-Sumner was referred to her GP who confirmed she had type 2 diabetes.

When she asked her doctor how she could get rid of it, he replied, “your people find it very hard”.

Photo above : Maxine Risk-Sumner (centre) with staff members of the Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative Health Clinic in 2010. (Supplied: SAHMRI)

When Ngarrindjeri great-grandmother Maxine Risk-Sumner was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2008, she began a journey that saw her lose 45 kilograms and turn her life around.

Ms Risk-Sumner told 891 ABC Adelaide‘s Mornings program she learned she was sick after being hospitalised with a “mystery” illness.

“The doctor soon discovered my blood sugar was high and he said to me, ‘did you know you were diabetic?’,” she said.

Ms Risk-Sumner was referred to her GP who confirmed she had type 2 diabetes.

When she asked her doctor how she could get rid of it, he replied, “your people find it very hard”.

“When somebody categorises me and diagnoses me not as a patient but as an Aboriginal — because I am black — that makes me more determined to override what [was] said,” Ms Risk-Sumner said.

Her doctor prescribed medication and referred her to a diabetic educator and nutritionist.

“I thought, ‘how can these people help me? All of my family has type 2 diabetes’,” she said.

Over the next 12 months, Ms Risk-Sumner learnt how she could change her lifestyle to better her health.

She described the experience as “absolutely amazing”.

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.@Matt_Cooke86 we support #Healthy weight week 13-19 Feb!

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Food as addictive as alcohol, drugs

Ms Risk-Sumner said at the time of her diagnosis she was obese.

“I reckon I wore size 20 clothes,” she said.

“Now I wear [size] nine kid’s jeans.”

With the help of her diabetes educator, Ms Risk-Sumner changed her whole perception of food and what she had been eating.

Aggressive approaches to intensive lifestyle and dietary change, and the right medical care and education, can really make a difference.

Professor Alex Brown

“Food is just as addictive as alcohol and drugs,” she said.

She removed manufactured and processed foods from her diet and began eating only fresh, natural foods.

“I can’t believe how big I was and how small I am now,” she said.

By combining her change in diet with physical activity, Ms Risk-Sumner lost 45 kilograms over five years.

Access issues for Indigenous communities

Professor Alex Brown, deputy director and program leader of Aboriginal research at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), said Ms Risk-Sumner was a perfect example of how change could happen with hard work.

“Aggressive approaches to intensive lifestyle and dietary change, and the right medical care and education, can really make a difference,” he said.

Professor Brown said remote Indigenous communities faced the difficulty of scarce supplies of fresh foods.

“People with the least [wealth] and least access to healthy food pay the most for the very things that we encourage them to consume,” he said.

“We have this triple whammy of poverty, high-risk [of diabetes] and trouble accessing what you need.”

Ms Risk-Sumner said she had noticed within her own community that others had begun to take more notice and care with what they were eating since witnessing her results.

She also now carries five-kilogram hand weights every time she goes for a walk and said she had become addicted to exercise.

“Weights are my lifesaver because muscle is the only thing that will burn the bad fats in your body,” she said.

“As a grandmother, I’ve got muscles.”

NACCHO #closethegap Aboriginal Health : Professor Tom Calma has a passion for growing #healthyfutures and #closingthegap

tom

 ” The progress being made is heartening and exciting because it will have a lasting impact, taking us several great strides towards a healthier future.

In the last few years as we all know, we’ve seen changes of prime ministers, we’ve seen changes of Indigenous affairs ministers, so all the advancement gets retarded in some way — the impact is lost.

That’s what the Close the Gap  10-year anniversary was about: we now need to get governments to recommit to working together [with the opposition], to having a strong policy focus.

Last year’s Closing the Gap report card tabled in Parliament showed there had been little progress in raising the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Indigenous men have a life expectancy of 69.1 years, which is nearly 10 years less than for non-Indigenous men, while Indigenous women are also living almost 10 years less than other Australian women.

It has to be a generational target, a 25-year target, because that’s how long it takes.

I’m  proud that more than 40 organisations, including many community-controlled Aboriginal health organisations, were monitoring the Close the Gap targets.

You can’t deny that this is the group that has the expertise, who governments should be falling over themselves to take advice from.”

Professor Tom Calma : Close the Gap was first suggested by Professor Calma in 2005  during his time as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner : NACCHO will be covering extensively the Prime Ministers Closing the Gap Report next Tuesday 14 February : Please note quotes above edited and added by NACCHO Media  

Professor Tom Calma AO is Chancellor of the University of Canberra, Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland, Adjunct Associate Professor at the Australian National University, Professor and Chair of the Poche Indigenous Health Network at the University of Sydney Medical School and National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking. He is an Aboriginal elder of the Kungarakan people and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group and was ACT Australian of the Year in 2013.

As his wife Heather says, “Tom works more than full time”.

Photo above : Professor Tom Calma with Warrigal greens or chillies in his greenhouse. Photo: Karleen Minney

As published in Canberra Times Susan Parsons is a Canberra writer

At home in Chapman, his passion is gardening. The block is 1200 square metres and the back garden is filled with raised beds of vegetables, including chillies, strawberries that are stolen by the birds, tomatoes, zucchini and three varieties of laden fig trees

Along the fences, which back onto Mt Arawang, are rows of fruit trees, espaliered and cordoned at 45 degrees for extra space. There are three pear trees, four apples planted two years ago after landscaping work, a double-grafted apricot, a triple-grafted plum, two nectarines, two peaches,a cherry tree and a prune. However, possums reduce the crops.

Tom started gardening in Darwin when very young and, at his primary school near Fannie Bay, there was a plot in which the children were encouraged to garden

His mother’s father, Dutch engineer and agriculturist Edwin Verburg, was a pioneer horticulturist in the Northern Territory. He married Tom’s grandmother, Anmilil, a Traditional Owner of Adelaide River and the region 100 kilometres south of Darwin where he established a farm. In the 1920s he had fields of rice and maize, vegetables and tropical fruit where he introduced irrigation and built the first dam with centrifugal pumps. A bridge in the town is named after him.

Tom’s father was also interested in horticulture and his first job was growing tobacco in the Darwin Botanical Gardens.

My introduction to the Calmas was through Adrian Van Leest, of Campbell, a grower of family heritage tomatoes and a keen gardener. Heather Calma says that through Adrian, one year Tom grew a variety of potatoes called ‘Heather’ which had a purple skin. This year, however, their busy life meant Tom missed the potato planting season.

The Chapman greenhouse is crowded with plants and horticultural products. There is a stool and fan for comfort when Tom experiments with his favourite weekend activity, raising plants with Marcotting, or air-layering, a specialty. Tom finds growing capsicums in the greenhouse means he can use them as perennials, though they do not produce fruit in winter. This season he has bell capsicums and long capsicums, bush tomatoes, ginger, pots of chillies and Warrigal spinach. He also raises broccolini, a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli, a hybrid developed in 1993.

Heather says Tom grows unusual things sometimes that she doesn’t want to eat. One edible, not often seen is Celtuce, an ancient Asian vegetable called “wosun” in China. It has a trunk like celery and leaves like lettuce and Tom purchased it off eBay.

Among rows of Heather’s dark foliaged plants in the front garden is Tom’s potted Manzanillo olive tree. He salts the ripe (black) olives for 30 days, washes them in fresh water to reduce the salt, dry, then cover in olive oil with chilli, diced limes and homegrown purple hard neck garlic, which makes delicious snacks.

On our visit Tom obligingly dug a root of horseradish, a heavy job as the ground was hard after two 37C days and no rain. He says most recipes for mashing horseradish are similar. He uses this link: simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_prepare_horseradish. The grated plant oxidises and gets very hot so use vinegar to stabilise it.

The couple met at university in 1977 and, for 14 years, lived in Darwin and in Humpty Doo with a large vegie garden. On diplomatic postings to India and Vietnam from 1995 to 2002, it was in India that Heather Calma started cooking and eating eggplants and it is one of her favourite edibles. Tom grows the long, slender Lebanese variety.

When they lived in Darwin, Heather frequented a great Indonesian cafe at lunchtime and loved to eat their chilli bean dish. As they were leaving to move to Canberra, she cheekily asked how to make it and they shared the ingredients and basic method but not the quantities. Over the years she has turned this into a favourite chilli eggplant dish.

Eggplant with Chilli and Coconut milk

Heat oven to 180C.

Cut 10-12 Lebanese eggplants in half longways and microwave until almost cooked.

Place them cut side up in a single layer in a large baking dish.

In a blender, blend:

2 medium brown onions

3 large cloves garlic

2-4 red chillies (according to taste)

3 medium to large tomatoes

3 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

Heat a dessertspoon of olive oil in a large fry pan. Once warm, add the mixture and cook on medium heat for four minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture changes from salmon pink colour to a more orange colour when it has cooked enough.

Add:

450ml tin coconut milk

2 Kaffir lime leaves, scrunched up to release flavour

1 stalk lemon grass cut in half, bruised and sliced down the middle

Gently bring to low simmer for a few minutes. Pour over the eggplant making sure all the eggplants are covered. Bake in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the dish browned slightly.

Serve with rice and meat or chicken. Also delicious on its own.

Susan Parsons is a Canberra writer.