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


 ” 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 


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”.


.@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


 ” 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: 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.


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.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Chronic Disease #prevention



 ” The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance recommends that the Australian Government introduce a health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages, as part of a comprehensive approach to decreasing overweight and obesity, and with revenue supporting public education campaigns and initiatives to prevent chronic disease and address childhood obesity.

A health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages should not be viewed as the single solution to the obesity epidemic in Australia.

Rather, it should be one component of a comprehensive approach, including 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[42].

Health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages

ACDPA Position Statement

Key messages

  •  The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (ACDPA) recommends that the Australian Government introduce a health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages (sugary drinks)i, as part of a comprehensive approach to decreasing overweight and obesity.
  •  Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is associated with increased energy intake and in turn, weight gain and obesity. Obesity is an established risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and certain cancers.
  •  Beverages are the largest source of free sugars in the Australian diet. One in two Australians usually exceed the World Health Organization recommendation to limit free sugars to 10% of daily intake (equivalent to 12 teaspoons of sugar).
  •  Young Australians are the highest consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages, along with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and socially disadvantaged groups.
  •  Young people, low-income consumers and those most at risk of obesity are most responsive to food and beverage 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 sugar-sweetened beverages in Australia is estimated to reduce consumption and potentially prevent thousands of cases of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke over 25 years. The levy could generate revenue of $400-$500 million each year, which could support public education campaigns and initiatives to prevent chronic disease and address childhood obesity.
  •  A health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages should not be viewed as the single solution to the obesity epidemic in Australia. Rather, it should be one component of a comprehensive approach, including 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.

i ‘Sugar-sweetened beverages’ and sugary drinks are used interchangeably in this paper. This refers to all non-alcoholic water based beverages with added sugar, including sugar-sweetened soft drinks and flavoured mineral waters, fortified waters, energy and electrolyte drinks, fruit and vegetable drinks, and cordials. This term does not include milk-based products, 100% fruit juice or non-sugar sweetened beverages (i.e. artificial, non-nutritive or intensely sweetened). 2


The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (ACDPA) brings together five leading non-government health organisations with a commitment to reducing the growing incidence of chronic disease in Australia attributable to overweight and obesity, poor nutrition and physical inactivity. ACDPA members are: Cancer Council Australia; Diabetes Australia; Kidney Health Australia; National Heart Foundation of Australia; and the Stroke Foundation.

This position statement is one of a suite of ACDPA statements, which provide evidence-based information and recommendations to address modifiable risk factors for chronic disease. ACDPA position statements are designed to inform policy and are intended for government, non-government organisations, health professionals and the community.

Chronic disease

Chronic diseases are the leading cause of illness, disability, and death in Australia, accounting for around 90% of all deaths in 2011[1]. One in two Australians (i.e. more than 11 million) had a chronic disease in 2014-15 and almost one quarter of the population had at least two conditions[2].

However, much chronic disease is actually preventable. Around one third of total disease burden could be prevented by reducing modifiable risk factors, including overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and poor diet[2].

Overweight and obesity

Overweight and obesity is the second greatest contributor to disease burden and increases risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and some cancers[2].

The rates of overweight and obesity are continuing to increase. Almost two-thirds of Australians are overweight or obese and one in four Australian children are already overweight or obese[2]. Children who are overweight are also more likely to grow up to become overweight or obese adults, with an increased risk of chronic disease and premature mortality[3].

The cost of obesity in Australia was estimated to be $8.6 billion in 2011-12, comprising $3.8 billion in direct costs and $4.8 billion in indirect costs[4]. If no further action is taken to slow obesity rates in Australia, the cost of obesity over the next 10 years to 2025 is estimated to total $87.7 billion[4].

Free sugars and weight gain

There is increasing evidence that high intake of free sugarsii is associated with weight gain due to excess energy intake and dental caries[5]. The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly recommends reducing free sugar intake to less than 10% of total energy intake (equivalent to around 12 teaspoons of sugar), or to 5% for the greatest health benefits[5].

ii ‘Free sugars’ refer to sugars added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.

In 2011-12, more than half of Australians usually exceeded the recommendation to limit free sugar intake to 10%[6]. There was wide variation in the amounts of free sugars consumed, with older children and teenagers most likely to exceed the recommendation and adults aged 51-70 least likely to exceed the recommendation[6]. On average, Australians consumed around 60 grams of free sugars each day (around 14 teaspoons)[6]. Children and young people were the highest consumers, with adolescent males and females consuming the equivalent of 22 and 17 teaspoons of sugar each day respectively [6].

Beverages contribute more than half of free sugar intake in the Australian diet[6]. In 2011-12, soft drinks, sports and energy drinks accounted for 19% of free sugar intake, fruit juices and fruit drinks contributed 13%, and cordial accounted for 4.9%[6]. 3

Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption

In particular, sugar-sweetened beverages are mostly energy-dense but nutrient-poor. Sugary drinks appear to increase total energy intake due to reduced satiety, as people do not compensate for the additional energy consumed by reducing their intake of other foods or drinks[3, 7]. Sugar-sweetened beverages may also negatively affect taste preferences, especially amongst children, as less sweet foods may become less palatable[8].

Sugar-sweetened beverages are consumed by large numbers of Australian adults and children[9], and Australia ranks 15th in the world for sales of caloric beverages per person per day[10].

One third of Australians consumed sugar-sweetened beverages on the day before the Australian Health Survey interview in 2011-12[9]. Of those consuming sweetened beverages, the equivalent of a can of soft drink was consumed (375 mL)[9]. Children and adolescents were more likely to have consumed sugary drinks than adults (47% compared with 31%), and consumption peaked at 55% amongst adolescents[9]. Males were more likely than females to have consumed sugary drinks (39% compared with 29%)[9].

Australians living in areas with the highest levels of socioeconomic disadvantage were more likely to have consumed sugary drinks than those in areas of least disadvantage (38% compared with 31%)[9]. Half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consumed sugary drinks compared to 34% of non-Indigenous people[9]. Amongst those consuming sweetened beverages, a greater amount was consumed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders than for non-Indigenous people (455 mL compared with 375 mL)[9]. 4

The health impacts of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption

WHO and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) recommend restricting or avoiding intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, based on evidence that high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages may increase risk of weight gain and obesity[7, 11]. As outlined earlier, obesity is an established risk factor for a range of chronic diseases[2].

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars, particularly sugar-sweetened beverages, based on evidence of a probable association between sugary drink consumption and increased risk of weight gain in adults and children, and a suggestive association between soft drink consumption and an increased risk of reduced bone strength, and dental caries in children[3].

Type 2 diabetes

Sugar-sweetened drinks may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes[3]. Evidence indicates a significant relationship between the amount and frequency of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed and increased risk of type 2 diabetes[12, 13]. The risk of type 2 diabetes is estimated to be 26% greater amongst the highest consumers (1 to 2 servings/day) compared to lowest consumers (<1 serving/month)[13].

Cardiovascular disease and stroke

The consumption of added sugar by adolescents, especially sugar-sweetened soft drinks, has been associated with multiple factors that can increase risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of body size, and increased insulin resistance among overweight or obese adolescents[14].

A high sugar diet has been linked to increased risk of heart disease mortality[15, 16]. Consuming high levels of added sugar is associated with risk factors for heart disease such as weight gain and raised blood pressure[17]. Excessive dietary glucose and fructose have been shown to increase the production and accumulation of fatty cells in the liver and bloodstream, which is linked to cardiovascular disease, and kidney and liver disease[18]. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is one of the major causes of chronic liver disease and is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease[18].

There is also emerging evidence that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption may be independently associated with increased risk of stoke[19].

Chronic kidney disease

There is evidence of an independent association between sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption and the development of chronic kidney disease and kidney stone formation[20]. The risk of developing chronic kidney disease is 58% greater amongst people who regularly consume at least one sugar-sweetened soft drink per day, compared with non-consumers[21].


While sugar-sweetened beverages may contribute to cancer risk through their effect on overweight and obesity, there is no evidence to suggest that these drinks are an independent risk factor for cancer[7]. 5

A health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages

WHO recommends that governments consider taxes and subsidies to discourage consumption of less healthy foods and promote healthier options[22]. WHO concludes that there is “reasonable and increasing evidence that appropriately designed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages would result in proportional reductions in consumption, especially if aimed at raising the retail price by 20% or more”[23].

Price influences consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages[24, 25]. Young people, low-income consumers and those most at risk of obesity are most responsive to food and beverage price changes, and are likely to gain the largest health benefit from a levy on sugary drinks due to reduced consumption[23]. While a health levy would result in lower income households paying a greater proportion of their income in additional tax, the financial burden across all households is small, with minimal differences between higher- and lower-income households (less than $5 USD per year)[26].

A 2016 study modelled the impact of a 20% ad valorem excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Australia over 25 years[27]. The levy could reduce sugary drink consumption by 12.6% and reduce obesity by 2.7% in men and 1.2% in women[27]. Over 25 years, there could be 16,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, 4,400 fewer cases of ischaemic heart disease and 1,100 fewer strokes[27]. In total, 1,600 deaths could potentially be prevented[27].

The 20% levy was modelled to generate more than $400 million in revenue each year, even with a decline in consumption, and save $609 million in overall health care expenditure over 25 years[27]. The implementation cost was estimated to be $27.6 million[27].

A separate Australian report is supportive of an excise tax on the sugar content of sugar-sweetened beverages, to reduce consumption and encourage manufacturers to reformulate to reduce the sugar content in beverages[28]. An excise tax at a rate of 40 cents per 100 grams was modelled to reduce consumption by 15% and generate around $500 million annually in revenue[28]. While a sugary drinks levy is not the single solution to obesity, the introduction of a levy could promote healthier eating, reduce obesity and raise revenue to combat costs that obesity imposes on the broader community.

There is public support for a levy on sugar-sweetened beverages. Sixty nine percent of Australian grocery buyers supported a levy if the revenue was used to reduce the cost of healthy foods[29]. A separate survey of 1,200 people found that 85% supported levy revenue being used to fund programs reducing childhood obesity, and 84% supported funding for initiatives encouraging children’s sport[30].

An Australian levy on sugar-sweetened beverages is supported by many public health groups and professional organisations.


NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Diabetes : Changes to subsidised access to blood glucose testing strips.


NDSS is  aware of some incorrect information circulating on Facebook regarding the Federal Government’s changes to subsidised access to blood glucose testing strips.

These changes do not remove the subsidy for blood glucose test strips through the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS).

The changes also do not affect people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes using insulin, people with gestational diabetes, or people with other, rarer forms of diabetes.

The changes only apply to people with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin.

Under these changes, people with type 2 diabetes not using insulin can access blood glucose test strips for an initial period of six months, starting from the date they first make a purchase through the NDSS after 1 July 2016.

At the end of this six month period, they can get continuing access through the NDSS if their health professional (doctor, credentialled diabetes educator or nurse practitioner) decides it is necessary for the person to continue to monitor their blood glucose levels. If this is the case their health professional will sign an NDSS Blood Glucose Test Strip Six Month Approval form, which will allow them to access test strips for a further six months. The person can take this form to their NDSS pharmacy to get their test strips.

There are no limits to the number of blood glucose test strip approvals as long as there is a need for the person to continue to monitor their blood glucose levels.

More detailed information can be found on the NDSS website here:
You can also find information from the Department of Health here:
Please call our Helpline on 1300 136 588 if you have any further questions.

NACCHO Aboriginal #Healthyfutures #sugarfree : Seven essential tips to breaking up with sugar in 2017


 “Let’s be honest, most countries and communities (and especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders ) now face serious health challenges from obesity. Even more concerning, so do our kids.

While no single mission will be the panacea to a complex problem, using 2017 to set a new healthy goal of giving sugar the kick would be a great start.

Understand sugar, be aware of it, minimise it and see it for what it is – a special treat for a rare occasion.

This New Year’s, make breaking up with sugar your planned resolution.

“Hey sugar – it’s not me, it’s you…”

Alessandro R Demaio  Global Health Doctor; Co-Founded NCDFREE & festival21; Assoc. Researcher, University of Copenhagen and NACCHO supporter


Download NACCHO Healthy Futures Report Card  Here 20178


As we come to the end of 2016, many of us start to look back – and reflect. The year has been defining – even redefining – in many ways. Politics, technology and culture have all seen major leaps and in some cases, hurdles. In public health, it’s been a big year for sugar.

Global recognition is building for the very real health concerns posed by large and increasing quantities of hidden sugar in our diets. This near-ubiquitous additive found in products from pasta sauces to mayonnaise has been in the headlines and in our discussions. The seemingly innocuous sweet treat raises eyebrows from community groups to policy makers – and change is in the air.

Let’s review some of the sugar-coated headers from the past 12 months:

  • The global obesity epidemic continued to build while more than two-in-three Australian adults faced overweight or obesity – and almost one in four of our children.
  • Science around sugary drinks further solidified, with consumption now linked to obesity, childhood obesity, heart disease, diabetes (type-2), dental caries and even lower fertility.
  • Australians were estimated to consume a staggering 76 litres of sugary drinks each since January alone, and new reports highlighted that as much as 15% of the crippling health costs associated with obesity could result from sugary drinks consumption.
  • Meanwhile around the planet, more countries took sound policy measures to reduce sugar consumption in their citizens. France, Belgium, Hungary, Finland, Chile, the UK, Ireland, South Africa and many parts of the United States implemented, continued or planned the implementation of pricing policies for sugary drinks.

In short, the over-consumption of sugar is now well recognised as a public health challenge everywhere.

With all this in mind and a New Year ahead, it’s time to put big words into local action. With resolutions brewing, here are seven helpful tips to breaking up with sugar in 2017.

1. Understand sugar

When it comes to sugar, things can get pretty confusing. Below, I shed some light on the common misunderstandings, but let’s recheck sugar itself – in simplest terms.

Sugar is a type of refined carbohydrate and a source of calories in our diet. Our body uses sugar and other sources of calories as energy, and any sugar that is not used is eventually stored as fat in our liver or on our bellies.

“Free sugars” are those added to products or concentrated in the products – either by us or by the manufacturer. They don’t include sugars in whole fruits and vegetables, but more on that later. For a range of health reasons, the World Health Organization recommends we get just 5% of our daily calories from free sugars. For a fully grown man or woman, this equates to a recommended limit to sugar consumption of roughly 25 grams – or 6 teaspoons. For women, it’s a little less again.

Consume more than this, and our risk of health problems rises.

2. Quit soft drinks

With 16 teaspoons of sugar in a single bottle serving – that’s more than 64 grams – there’s nothing “soft” about soft drinks. Including all carbonated drinks, flavoured milks and energy drinks with any added sugars, as well as fruit drinks and juices, sugary drinks are a great place to focus your efforts for a healthier 2017. Sugary drinks provide no nutritional value to our diets and yet are a major source of calories.


What’s more concerning, evidence suggests that when we drink calories in the form of sugary drinks, our brains don’t recognise these calories in the same way as with foods. They don’t make us feel “full” and could even make us hungrier – so we end up eating (and drinking) more. In this way, liquid calories can be seen as even more troubling than other forms of junk foods. Combine this with studies that suggest the pleasure (and sugar spike) provided by sugary drinks may make them hard to give up – and it’s not difficult to see why many of us are drinking higher amounts, more often and in larger servings. This also makes cutting down harder.

The outcome is that anything up to one-seventh of the entire public cost of obesity in Australia could now result from sugary drinks. In other words, cut out the sugary drinks and you’ll be doing your own health a favour – and the health of our federal and state budgets.

3. Eat fruit, not juice

When it’s wrapped in a peel or a skin, fruit sugars are not a challenge to our health. In fact, the sugars in fruit are nature’s way of encouraging us to eat the fruit to begin with. Fruits like oranges, apples and pears contain important fibres. The “roughage” in our foods, this fibre is healthy in many ways but there are three in particular I will focus on. First, it slows our eating down; it is easy to drink a glass of juice squeezed from 7 apples, but much harder to eat those seven pieces whole. Second, it makes us feel full or satiated. And third, it slows the release of the sugars contained in fruit into our blood streams, thus allowing our bodies to react and use the energy appropriately, reducing our chances of weight gain and possibly even diabetes.

Juice, on the other hand, involves the removal of most of those fibres and even the loss of some of the important vitamins. What we don’t lose though, is the 21 grams or more than five teaspoons of sugar in each glass.

In short, eat fruit as a snack with confidence. But enjoy whole fruit, not juice.

4. Sugar by any other name

High-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, malt sugar and molasses – they all mean one thing: sugar.

As the public awakens to the health challenges posed by sugar, the industry turns to new ways to confuse consumers and make ‘breaking up’ more difficult. One such way is to use the many alternative names for sugar – instead of the ‘s’ word itself. Be on the lookout for:

Evaporated cane juice, golden syrup, malt syrup, sucrose, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose and more…

5. Eat whole foods where possible

Tomato sauce, mayonnaise, salad dressings, gravies, taco sauces, savoury biscuits and breakfast cereals – these are just some of the many foods now often packed with hidden, added sugars.

A study found that 74% of packaged foods in an average American supermarket contain added sugars – and there is little evidence to suggest Australia would be dramatically different. Added to food to make it more enjoyable, and moreish, the next tip when avoiding such a ubiquitous additive is to eat whole foods.

It’s hard to hide sugar in plain flour, or a tomato, or frozen peas. Buying and cooking with mostly whole foods – not products – is a great way to ensure you and your family are not consuming added sugars unaware.

6. See beyond (un)healthy claims

Words like “wholesome”, “natural” and “healthy” are clad on many of our favourite ingredients. Sadly, they don’t mean much.

Even products that are full of sugar, like breakfast cereals and energy bars, often carry claims that aim to confuse and seduce us into purchase. Be wary – and be sure to turn the package over and read the ingredients and nutrition labelling where possible (and if time permits).

7. Be okay with sometimes

The final but crucial message in all of this is that eating or drinking sugar is not a sin. Sugar is still a part of our lives and something to enjoy in moderation. The occasional piece of cake, or late night chocolate – despite the popular narrative painted by industry to undermine efforts for true pricing on sugar – these occasional sweet treats are not the driving challenge for obesity. The problem is that sugary drinks, and sugar in our foods, have become every day occurrences.

With this in mind, let’s not demonise sugar but instead let’s see it for what it is. Enjoy some juice or bubbles from time to time but make water the default on an everyday basis. With the average can of cola containing 39 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar, be OK with sometimes.

Bitter truth

Let’s be honest, We now face serious health challenges from obesity.

Even more concerning, so do our kids.

Learn more about our ACCHO making Deadly Choices




NACCHO Aboriginal #healthyfutures and skin #cancer : Sun protection and dark skin: what you need to know


” Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma and other skin cancers in the world, and while skin cancer is more common in people with light skin, it’s a dangerous misconception that darker skinned people aren’t at risk.

In a 2014 study, one third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants from Northern and Central Australia had vitamin D deficiency, which carries some very negative health implications: low vitamin D levels are linked to an increased risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Given the burden of these chronic diseases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and their contribution to a much reduced life expectancy, more research is needed on the role of sun exposure and vitamin D.

Across all aspects of the healthcare system, overcoming the disadvantage within Indigenous heath is, and needs to be, a priority – dermatology is no exception.”

By Ellen Sima from SBS TV

Cancer Help , Resources and further information for Aboriginal people

Fair or freckled skin, red or blond hair and blue or green eyes: these are the common calling cards of skin cancer susceptibility. But while the risks in darker skinned people is generally reduced, it’s certainly not absent.

In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – a group with diverse, but commonly darker skin tones – melanoma and other skin cancers are less prevalent than in the non-Indigenous population, but still cause deaths every year.

Public health campaigns – think ‘slip, slop, slap’ – are often targeted to light skinned people, however the inequalities in the availability and appropriateness of health care can impact how different groups access diagnosis and treatment.

Some studies out of the US and UK suggest that, when people of colour (POC) do get skin cancers, they’re often diagnosed at a later stage and carry a higher mortality risk.

Combine this with the dearth of research on skin cancer in darkly pigmented people (studies on skin cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are particularly sparse), and the picture for darker skinned people is pretty unclear.

In light of this, this article can’t offer any health advice on sun protection beyond that put forward by the Cancer Council.

What it can do is look at what skin cancers are, how different types of pigmentation can change a person’s risk of skin cancer, and go over some other health considerations for sun protection in dark skin that you can bring up with your doctor.

The skin you’re in, and where it could become cancerous:

Some quick human biology: your skin is your largest organ, and is made up of the epidermis (upper layer) and the dermis (lower layer). When skin is exposed to the sun, ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage its DNA, causing the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells.

The most common types of skin cancer all begin in the epidermis (the upper skin layer), and are handily named after the types of cells they start in:

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC): the basal cells are column-shaped and form the bottom layer of the epidermis. BCC can look like a lump or scaly patch, pale, pink or dark in colour. It’s usually slow growing, rarely spreading to other parts of the body. The earlier it’s found, the easier it is to treat.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC): the squamous cells are in the upper layer of the epidermis. SCC can look like a thickened scaly spot or rapidly growing lump, and tends to grow quickly. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body, but this isn’t very common.

Melanoma: melanocytes are located in the basal cell layer and produce melanin pigment. Melanoma are aggressive tumors, and while this cancer is less common than BCC and SCC, it’s much more likely to spread to other parts of the body (like your brain, bones and lungs) through your lymphatic system and bloodstream.

Pigmentation – what’s it got to do with skin cancer risk?

The colour of a person’s skin is strongly influenced by their skin pigments, which are determined by their genetics and lifestyles factors, like sun exposure.

Remember those melanocytes (where melanomas form)? These cells produce melanin and package it in organelles called melanosomes. The melanin in skin comes in two main types: eumelanin is black or brown protective pigment, while pheomelanin is a yellow-red colour.

The type and amount of melanin each person produces will affect their pigmentation (skin colour). Eumelanin is abundant in darker skinned people, who produce more melanin than people with light skin.

For those among us who tan in the sun, exposure to UV rays increases the production of melanin by the melanocytes; when the melanin accumulates in the epidermal layers, a tan builds up and the skin darkens.

Melanin helps protect skin against the sun’s rays by absorbing UV radiation in the surface layers, reducing the risk of cellular DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer.

This protective melanin helps reduce skin cancer risk in dark skinned people.

The flip side – dark skin and vitamin D deficiency

While this melanin barrier can protect against UV damage, it can also make it more difficult for darker skinned people to get the Vitamin D they need.

Vitamin D, known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, is produced when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) light. Melanin filters this light, reducing the penetration of UVB and putting darker skinned people at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency.


A local perspective: sun exposure and health risks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

While the research on skin cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is pretty thin on the ground, some stats published in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare give a general picture of melanoma incidence:

Between 2005-2009, the rate for melanoma in Indigenous Australians was 9.3 cases in 100,000 people, compared to 33 cases per 100,000 in non-Indigenous Australians.

For BCC and SCC cancers, the data is extremely limited, as, unlike melanoma, these cancers aren’t mandatory to report in state and territory registries.

To gain a better understanding of what skin cancer risks are at play for the diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, more research is needed.

For more information on how to stay safe in the sun this Summer, contact Cancer Council Australia


NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : ” Skutta Tucker ” Aboriginal health star rating helps improve our mobs diets


 ” A new food labelling system is helping Indigenous people in remote communities make healthier food choices.

Skutta Tucker is Aboriginal English for good food in the Kimberley in Western Australia, and is the name of the new labelling system.

The program was developed by Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services in the majority-Indigenous central Kimberley town of Fitzroy Crossing.”

The Skutta Tucker labels bridge gaps in language and culture, allowing Aboriginal people the opportunity to make healthier dietary choices. As Reported by ABC News

The health service worked with students from Fitzroy Valley District High School.

Nindilingarri’s Amanda Cole said students wanted a way to be able to help their fellow community members to make healthy choices.

“It’s like a cultural version of the health star ratings you see on packaged foods in other supermarkets,” she said.

Diet-related disease is widespread in Aboriginal communities, with obesity and Type 2 diabetes being particularly common, according to peer-reviewed research.


Skutta Tucker healthy food labelling.

The Skutta Tucker labels bridge gaps in language and culture, allowing Aboriginal people the opportunity to make healthier dietary choices.

“In our orange juice aisle, I know Orange C is a very popular drink up here, and I saw the 100 per cent orange juice was completely emptied out, and Orange C was still full, so that was exciting to see,” Ms Cole said.

“These labels jump off the shelf and help people make a quick, easy and healthy choice.”

The early success of Skutta Tucker has led to plans to expand the program.

“Next year we will hopefully put the labels into Yakanarra, Wangkatjungka and Bailey’s Store,” Ms Cole said.

“They have all shown interest, so that’s really exciting.”

Topics: diet-and-nutrition, indigenous-culture, fitzroy-crossing-6765

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @AIHW download 3 reports Alert : Obesity and smoking rates higher in regional Australia


 ” Australians living in regional areas are more likely to be overweight or obese, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

A second report reveals a similar pattern in relation to daily tobacco smoking with adults in regional areas more likely to smoke daily than their city counterparts.

These reports highlight local areas where efforts can be targeted to reduce rates of smoking, overweight and obesity.

The results are intended to assist local communities in defining their priorities for improvements in health care and to better target and drive health system improvements specific to their local community’s needs.”

The Healthy Communities reports look at local-level variation in obesity and smoking rates across Australia’s Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

 ” The release of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on overweight and obesity rates should serve as a shocking wake up call for the Turnbull Government – stop sitting on your hands and start acting on this critical public health issue by putting a National Physical Activity Strategy in place

The Abbott-Turnbull Government has gutted preventative health programs and cut $368 million out of prevention.

This forced the closure of successful health promotion programs including the Healthy Children program which provided funding to states and territories to run physical activity and healthy eating programs for children in schools, early childhood centres and preschools.”


Image above : Please note for specific data from our NACCHO 302 Clinics

Download NACCHO Healthy Futures



MyHealthyCommunities is an interactive site that lets you see how your local health area is performing and how it compares against other similar areas.

The website is managed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare. We provide nationally consistent, locally relevant and comparable information about health care services in Australia.

The aim of this website is to provide information in a way that helps you to make informed decisions. By publicly reporting in this way we also aim to empower clinicians and service providers to drive improvements, and increase transparency and accountability within the health system.

The first report, Healthy Communities: Overweight and obesity rates across Australia, 2014–15,

DOWNLOAD report Here


shows that the highest rate of overweight and obesity in adults was 73% in Country South Australia, while Northern Sydney had the lowest rate at 53% – still over half the adult population in that area who were overweight or obese.

When looking at just obesity (a body mass index of 30 and above) a wider variation was seen in adults across PHN areas.

‘With obesity we see even wider variation with 16% of adults who were shown to be obese in Central and Eastern Sydney, compared with 38% in Country South Australia. Again, the highest obesity rates were recorded in regional areas,’ said AIHW spokesperson Michael Frost.

Today’s second report, Healthy Communities: Tobacco smoking rates across Australia, 2014–15


Image above :

Please note for specific data from our NACCHO 302 Clinics

Download NACCHO Healthy Futures

For AIHW DOWNLOAD report here


shows that while daily smoking rates in Australia have continued to fall, they remain relatively high in some PHN areas – particularly regional areas.

‘Northern Sydney had the lowest rate of daily smoking at around 5%, while Western NSW had the highest rate of 23%,’ Mr Frost said.

‘Overall, regional PHN areas had higher smoking rates than city-based PHNs.’

Both reports are available on the MyHealthyCommunities website (


Today’s release of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on overweight and obesity rates should serve as a shocking wake up call for the Turnbull Government – stop sitting on your hands and start acting on this critical public health issue by putting a National Physical Activity Strategy in place.

The AIHW’s Healthy Communities report illustrates why overweight and obesity rates are a serious problem for the future of our health system, finding that around 64 per cent of Australian adults – 11.2 million – are now overweight or obese.

The Government needs to get serious and start putting in place serious strategies to combat this epidemic. We don’t need more inquiries – Australia needs action.

The Global Burden of Disease study identified dietary risk and high body mass index as the top two contributors to burden of disease – even higher than smoking – linked to conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

That’s why during the election, Labor committed to developing Australia’s first National Physical Activity Strategy.

Australia is falling behind the pack when it comes to tackling obesity – more than a dozen countries already have strategies in place to increase activity and reduce obesity.

We also committed to introduce a National Nutrition Framework, to work with food producers and retailers to expand the utilisation of the Health Star Rating system, something Labor developed in Government.

In contrast, the Abbott-Turnbull Government has gutted preventative health programs and cut $368 million out of prevention. This forced the closure of successful health promotion programs including the Healthy Children program which provided funding to states and territories to run physical activity and healthy eating programs for children in schools, early childhood centres and preschools.

Australia needs a Government prepared to take action in recognition of the cost of obesity and associated co-morbidities, and actively help Australians to change their behaviour. The Turnbull Government either doesn’t care, or isn’t up to the task.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Policy Alert : Closing the gap needs urgent action to overcome food insecurity


‘The land and the sea is our food security. It is our right. Food security for us has two parts:

Food security is when the food from our ancestors is protected and always there for us and our children. It is also when we can easily access and afford the right non-traditional food for a collective healthy and active life.

When we are food secure we can provide, share and fulfil our responsibilities, we can choose good food, knowing how to make choices and how to prepare and use it.’

Developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait People from a series of workshops held within remote communities in 2010, drawing on insights and using the definition of food security:

Picture above Project title: A systems perspective on the prevention of chronic disease for urban Aboriginal communities: Improving food security

Solutions that address social and cultural factors that are made and rolled out together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are crucial to improving food security and achieving health equality,’

Donna Murray, CEO of Indigenous Allied Health Australia.

” Improving food security would have far-reaching and long-lasting effects in improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing outcomes.

‘Reducing hunger and malnutrition within some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by improving food security, will help stop crippling rates of preventable diseases like heart disease, kidney disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes,’

Daniel James from the National Heart Foundation of Australia

The health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians is set to widen unless urgent action is taken to address availability and affordability of nutritious food among Indigenous communities, leading health organisations have warned.

A coalition of organisations released their blueprint for improving food security at Parliament House in Canberra this week:

Download copy of Blueprint here :


The coalition is comprised of Australian Red Cross, Dietitians Association of Australia, Indigenous Allied Health Australia, National Heart Foundation of Australia, Public Health Association of Australia and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

These organisations have been working on the issue of food security over the years through workforce training and development, remote food supply, research, delivering food and nutrition programs across Australia, and advocating for change.

But they’re calling for further collaboration to bring greater national attention to the issue and want a coordinated response to enable effective action.

See Healthinfonet Research

Their blueprint calls for sustained action and leadership from all levels of government and nongovernment organisations towards food and nutrition security, based on approaches that work and have been developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Latest figures show around one in four (23%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in a household that, over a 12-month period, had run out of food and could not afford to buy more – a figure six times higher than non-Indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households have, on average, a weekly gross income which is $250 less than that of non-Indigenous households2, with as much as 80 per cent of the family income used up in buying the foods needed for a healthy diet .

The organisations want food and nutrition security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be front and centre in the country’s National Nutrition Policy, and in rolling out the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.

In addition, the policy statement calls for:

Australia to sign up to the policy recommendations outlined in the World Health Organisation’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2008) to address the underlying barriers to food security in Australia, such as housing and income.

Training and job opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to work with their local communities on improving food security and closing Australia’s food and nutrition gap.

Ongoing monitoring of the availability, affordability, accessibility and acceptability of healthy food, with this tracked and evaluated against food security policy actions.

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander food security is shaped by complex and interrelated factors. There is no quick fix here, a strong plan addressing the underlying complexity is one important step,’ said Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia.

Australian Red Cross CEO Judy Slatyer said: ‘There should not be a single Australian who is unable to access or buy adequate food, but the reality is that there is great inequality in who can access healthy food and who can’t. There are many reasons – poverty, low income, and poor housing, including a lack of the basics needed to store and prepare food. Addressing these issues would certainly make having a healthy diet more accessible.’

‘Improving availability and affordability of healthy food for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families could counter the current situation where 41 per cent of daily energy (kilojoule) intake comes from ‘discretionary’ foods, such as take-away and convenience foods, which are seen as more affordable and filling,’ said Claire Hewat, CEO of the Dietitians Association of Australia.

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people live an average of ten years less than other Australians, despite improvements in some areas of Indigenous health.

The coalition of organisations stress that improved food security among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is critical to Australia ‘closing the gap’ in chronic diseases and life expectancy with non-Indigenous Australians.