Obesity can lead to a number of chronic health issues such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer. The idea of implementing a tax on sugary drinks, a ‘fat tax’ and a ban on the advertising of junk food to combat this obesity problem has been discussed frequently.
According to an Australian Child Health Poll, ‘79% of Australians would support a gradual ban on junk food advertising while 61% would support a tax on sugary drinks’ (Brooks 2016, para 3-5). However, it should be noted that junk food taxes have previously been implemented in other countries such as Denmark. An article by Eisenberg (2013), looks at the ‘fat tax’ introduced in Denmark in 2011, which aimed to reduce the high levels of cardiovascular diseases in Denmark. The ‘fat tax’ lasted less than a year as Danish shoppers would either buy cheaper and poorer quality products or just cross the border into neighbouring countries to do their shopping.
The problem of childhood obesity has attracted much media and social attention in Australia. It is easy to blame fast food and junk products for this epidemic, however, it is ultimately a person’s choice as to what they eat and consume on a daily basis. With reference to the Danish ‘fat tax’, government intervention is starting to realise that funding for health should be focused on education about the importance of nutritious foods and physical activity. Facing the obesity issue with a multi-layered approach structured around education about nutrition and physical activity is the best approach to tackle the issue of childhood obesity.
Focus On Education
In terms of addressing obesity as a society, the focus should be on decreasing the cost of healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables, rather than taxing the junk food and sugary drinks. Education about the nutritional value of fresh, healthy foods as well as unhealthy and processed foods is important for children to understand. Improving the variety and accessibility of healthy foods in school canteens and day care centres would be another effective strategy to tackle the childhood obesity issue. Rather than focusing on taxing junk foods, a multilayered approach to obesity prevention would be most effective (Baur et al. 2009). One that includes less intense but broader-reaching education and health programs combined with intensive programs to reach those at the highest risk of obesity, as well as those with an existing weight problem (Baur et al. 2009). The government funding in Australia has therefore been poured into health and education programs to encourage children and young Australians to make healthier food choices and adopt healthier behaviours.
About Zack Jenesky
Zack is one of Mr Vitamins qualified team. He has studied a Bachelor Sports & Exercise Management, he is also a personal trainer with a passion for sports and body building. Come into our store at 394 Victoria Avenue and chat to Zack about your health goals.
- Andrikopoulos, S., 2016, ‘The Paleo diet and diabetes’, Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 205, 4, pp.151-2.
- Baur, L., Bauman, A., Brand-Miller. J., Caterson, I., Colagirui, S., Gill, T., Steinbeck, K., Storlien, L. & Singh, M. 2009, ‘Childhood obesity in Australia remains a widespread health concern that warrants population-wide prevention programs’, Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 190, no. 3, pp. 146-8.
- Brooks, E. 2016, ‘Parents Want Politicians’ Help To Tackle Childhood Obesity, Say New Poll’, The Huffington Post, 1 June, viewed 20 April 2017, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/05/31/parents-want-politicians-help-to-tackle-childhood-obesity-say/>.
- Eisenberg, M., Frank, C. & Grandi, S. 2013, ‘Taxing Junk Food to Counter Obesity’, American Journal of Public Health, vol. 103, no. 11, pp. 1949-53.
- Sabatino, F. 2015, ‘Unpacking the Paleo diet: does it really promote health and weight loss?’, Health Science, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 20.
- Scott, S. 2016, ‘Paleo diet more effective for weight loss than previously thought, research finds’, ABC News, 27 May, viewed 20 April 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-27/paleo-diet-effective-for-weight-loss:-research/7449916>.