I again apologise for any offence taken by the unfortunate photo taken out of context at the Obesity Summit on Friday, and I am happy if my ridicule leads to action on the complex issue of obesity in this country.
That is exactly the reason I called international and Australian experts together for the National Obesity Summit last week
Last October, the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Health Council— comprising federal, state and territory ministers—agreed to develop a national strategy on obesity.
Friday’s National Obesity Summit in Canberra represented an important first step towards a new nationally cohesive strategy on obesity prevention and control.
The Summit focussed on the role of physical activity, primary health care clinicians, educators and governments to work collaboratively rather than in silos.
At the Summit we heard from national and global experts because obesity is an international issue and we need to understand how other jurisdictions are tackling the problem. We also heard that stigma surrounding obesity can be a barrier to help being accessed.
The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey shows that previous efforts to combat obesity have had limited success.
Two-thirds of adults and a quarter of children aged from five to 17 years are now overweight or obese.
While the rate for children has been stable for 10 years, the proportion of adults who are not just overweight but obese has risen from 27.9 per cent to 31.3 per cent.
Overweight and obesity not only compromise quality of life, they are strongly linked to preventable chronic diseases—heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, certain cancers, depression and arthritis, among others.
We know that there is not one simple solution to tackling the problem so we need to examine all options and develop a multi-faceted approach.
The Obesity Summit represented an important moment for Australians’ health and recognised that there is no magic fat-busting policy pill.