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Australia’s national obesity strategy 2022-2032

We summarise this 87-page document so you’re up to speed on this important policy development.

Background

Australia’s first national obesity strategy was launched on World Obesity Day, March 4. The Strategy is for 2022-2032 and has been agreed by Australian, State and Territory Governments. The joint statement from Health Ministers says the Strategy’s vision is for an Australia that encourages and enables healthy weight and healthy living for all. It is focussed on prevention, but it also aims to support the 14 million Australians currently living with overweight or obesity. The Strategy attracted 2,750 submissions from a variety of stakeholders including researchers, consumers, non-government, and professional organisations.

Guiding principles

  1. Creating equity
  2. Tackling weight stigma and discrimination
  3. Addressing wider determinants of health and sustainability
  4. Empowering personal responsibility to enable healthy living

Framework for action

Aim: fewer people’s health and wellbeing is impacted by overweight or obesity.

Targets: reduce death, hospitalisations, and burden of disease due to overweight and obesity; and, reduce individual, health and national economic costs due to overweight and obesity.

Goal: more people maintain a healthy weight.

Targets: halt the rise and reverse the trend in the prevalence of obesity in adults by 2030; reduce overweight and obesity in children and adolescents 2-17 years by at least 5% by 2030

Objectives

Increased consumption of healthy food and drinks and decreased consumption of discretionary foods.

  • Adults and children (≥9 years) maintain or increase their fruit consumption to an average 2 serves per day by 2030
  • Adults and children (≥9 years) increase their vegetable consumption to an average 5 serves per day by 2030 
  • Reduce the proportion of children and adults’ total energy intake from discretionary foods from >30% to <20% by 2030 
  • Increase the proportion of adults and children who are not exceeding the recommended intake of free sugars by 2030 
  • At least 50% of babies are exclusively breastfed until around 6 months of age by 2025.

Increased physical activity and reduced sedentary behaviour. 

  • Reduce the prevalence of insufficient physical activity amongst children, adolescents and adults by at least 15% by 2030.
  • Reduce the prevalence of Australians (≥15 years) undertaking no physical activity by at least 15% by 2030.

Ambitions:

  1. All Australians live, learn, work, play and age in supportive, sustainable and healthy environment.
  2. All Australian are empowered and skilled to stay as healthy as they can be.
  3. All Australians have access to early intervention and supportive health care.

Enablers of successful action

1. Lead the way- collaborative government providing strong leadership and fostering partnerships and social responsibility across all sectors at all levels.

2. Use evidence and data more effectively- contribute to strengthening the evidence base and data systems for monitoring and support. For example, regular population monitoring and surveillance including dietary and nutrient intake.

3. Invest for delivery- appropriate and sustained funding to prevent and treat overweight and obesity and to build workforce capacity for change across sectors. For example, Empower and strengthen a skilled workforce.

The strategy involves multiple sectors and partners working together to create supportive and healthy environments, empower people and communities to be healthy and provide more early-intervention options and appropriate obesity treatments.

Strategies for a healthy and equitable food system

  1. Build a healthier food system that favours the production, processing and distribution of healthy food and drinks.
  2. Make sustainable healthy food and drinks more accessible.
  3. Explore and implement use of economic tools to shift consumer purchases towards healthier food and drink options. For example, using incentives to encourage purchase of basic healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, and increased price to reduce consumption of sugar sweetened beverages.
  4. Make processed food and drinks healthier. For example, supporting reformulation efforts and reduce serving sizes of unhealthy foods.
  5. Improve nutrition information to help consumers make healthier choices at the time of purchase. For example, continuing to improve the Health Star Rating system, and work with retailers to promote healthy food and drinks.
  6. Reduce exposure to unhealthy food and drink marketing, promotion and sponsorship especially for children.

Strategies for a strong and equitable physical activity system

  1. Build more connected and safe community spaces that inspire people of all ages, abilities and cultures to engage in regular physical activity.
  2. Grow participation in walking, cycling, public transport, active recreation and sport by minimising cost and access barriers.
  3. Build the capacity and sustainability of the sport and active recreation industry.

 

Strategies in settings to support healthy behaviours

  1. Enable school and early childhood education and care settings to better support children and young people to be healthier.
  2. Enable workplaces to better support the health and wellbeing of their employees.
  3. Enable government agencies and other organisations to support health and wellbeing of citizens and customers.

 

Strategies that support upskilling and empowerment for health

2.1 Improve people’s knowledge, skills and confidence to lead active lives and to buy, prepare and enjoy healthy food and drinks. For example, education around and promotion of the Dietary and physical activity Guidelines.

2.2 Use social marketing to foster healthy social and cultural norms, reduce weight stigma and help people make healthy choices. For example, communication campaigns.

2.3 Enable parents, carers and families to optimise healthy child development and lifelong healthy habits for children and adolescents.

2.4 Engage and support young people to embed healthy behaviours as they transition to adulthood.

2.5 Engage and support local communities and organisations to develop and lead their own healthy eating and physical activity initiatives.

2.6 Enable and empower priority populations to have the same opportunities as others.

Strategies to enhance access to early intervention and supportive healthcare

  1. Enable access to primary health care, community-based practitioners and health services.
  2. Improve uptake of integrated models of care and referral pathways that focus on the individual.
  3. Address and treat unhealthy weight while preventing weight stigma.
  4. Support health, social and other care providers to enable positive discussion about weight.
  5. Strengthen the confidence and competence of the health care workforce to prioritise the prevention of obesity while preventing weight stigma.

You can read the full Strategy here.