Creating Healthy Food Environments – Who’s Responsible?

The fact that our country is in the crux an obesity epidemic is not news. The question of who’s responsible creates debate among professionals. Should individuals be responsible for their own health and lifestyle choices? How can food contribute to the solution? How involved should the government be? And what are the boundaries before crossing the lines and risk being called a ‘Nanny State’?

These issues were recently explored at the NSW Food Forum. Hosted by NSW Health, the forum brought together leading experts from government, academia, food industry and public health to discuss national food environment initiatives and identify opportunities for future action to promote and support healthy eating and active living in NSW.

The event was opened by the NSW Minister for Healthy Lifestyles, the Hon. Kevin Humphries and moderated by the ever-entertaining Adam Spencer. Challenges and success were showcased around:

  • Consumer education and labelling – including the ‘8700kJ’ and ‘Crunch and Sit’ campaigns
  • Council initiatives – The Northern Rivers Food and Illawarra Regional Food Strategy
  • Food industry contribution to creating a healthier food supply (e.g. reformulation)
  • Supermarket layout and initiatives to influence consumer purchasing

From here, a series of stakeholder workshops will be held over the coming year with the aim of developing options for action. Suggested areas for action arising from the Forum included:

  • Increasing consumer awareness of kilojoules
  • Addressing portion sizes
  • Reformulation (e.g. salt, saturated fat)
  • Leveraging successful council frameworks
  • Consider retail environment

NSW Health has set ambitious targets in their efforts to prevent overweight and obesity through their Healthy Eating and Active Living Strategy. In hosting this event, they acknowledge the importance of intersectoral collaborations – the bringing together of leading experts and decision makers across industries – to tackle the issue together. As Dr Kerry Chant, NSW Chief Health Officer and Deputy Director General, Population and Public Health points out:

The problem cannot be solved by the health system alone and we will drive partnerships with key stakeholders to support healthy choices in the places where people live, work and play.”

We couldn’t agree more. Here at Appetite we thrive on developing mutually beneficial long-term relationships, and stress how building these relationships is an essential strategy to the success of any brand or service.

Creating healthy food environments – we are all part of the solution.

For information about the activity side of the energy balance equation check out our Physical Activity Guidelines blog and visit the Premier’s Council for Active Living