At Otago University's Waistline seminar yesterday, where politicians were challenged on ideas like a 20 per cent tax on sugary fizzy drinks, much of the attention was on big-picture regulatory policies, as weight-loss schemes directed at individuals are often not very effective.They want to create the climate for controls on the food industry. I suppose that the study on the social costs of obesity could have been part of that.
Targeting teenage girls might be ideal, "but unfortunately teenagers aren't that receptive" to nutritional and physical activity interventions.
So the population-wide measures, like taxes on sugary drinks, were most likely to make a difference.
Several other researchers threw in traffic-light labelling - to mark foods as healthy or unhealthy - as an important part of combating a food "environment" which promotes obesity.
Professor Robert Beaglehole called for a national strategy on obesity reduction - which National MP Paul Hutchison said the Government would release in months - and for a social movement, as with tobacco control, to create the climate for controls on the food industry. [emphasis added]
"Obesity (here) is a public health disaster ... It is a tragedy at the personal, family and social levels. It's a pandemic."
Beaglehole won the 2010 Public Health Association award; the PHA highlighted his work chairing the SmokeFree Coalition.
- Some of the problems with taxing fats and sugars;
- More on fat taxes and fiscal externalities;
- The obese have higher lifetime health costs, but moral hazard through the health system isn't the cause;
- My quick fisk of the recent NZ obesity-costs study;
- Penn & Teller on nudges and fat taxes.