ACT Government takes aim at obesity with new action plan

Released 14/10/2013

A new action plan to reduce the level of obesity in the ACT community has been launched today by Chief Minister and Minister for Health, Katy Gallagher.

Towards Zero Growth sets out the ambitious goal of zero growth in obesity within the ACT focusing on strategies that make active and healthy lifestyle choices easier.

"The ACT Government has set the ambitious target of zero growth for obesity in the territory and this action plan is a way that we can aim to increase healthy lifestyle choices across a range of areas including schools, communities, workplaces and homes," the Chief Minister said.

Despite the ACT population being the healthiest in Australia, the proportion of children in the ACT who are overweight or obese is 25%, and for adults it has risen to 63.6%, from just 22.9% in 1995. Some predictions have the figure for adults rising to 80% by the year 2025.

"Clearly, if we are not able to stop or even slow these dramatic statistics there will be significant community impacts both social and financial. The "do-nothing" approach is simply unsustainable," the Chief Minister said.

"Towards Zero Growth takes a whole of government view to promote healthy lifestyles. Some of the actions are straight forward whilst others will be more controversial and require discussion, consultation and support if they are to be implemented."

Key actions in the Towards Zero Growth plan include:

  • improve the availability of healthy food and drink options in ACT Government workplaces and events
  • implement a Chief Minister's award scheme to reward healthy workplaces and food outlets
  • develop and implement an ACT Government school food and drink policy with supporting guidelines that will mandate the implementation of the National Healthy School Canteen guidelines in ACT schools
  • the creation of new incentives for ACT workers and/or workplaces to participate in physical activity or active travel
  • introduce health risk assessments for ACT Government staff with a view to extend these to the private sector
  • restrict the advertising of unhealthy foods within the government's regulatory control; and,
  • improve awareness, skills and capability across the ACT in buying and preparing healthy food

The document also proposes increasing the availability of free drinking water in public places and food outlets; a mandatory code for supermarkets to require at least one checkout isle to be free of energy dense, nutrient poor foods, and regulating the sale of sugary drinks.

The Chief Minister said all of the strategies would be guided by detailed consultation with industry and key stakeholders as well as regulatory impact analysis when required.

"It has taken many years for our unhealthy lifestyles to create this weight problem and it will take many more to start to turn it around. In many ways it will require similar efforts to those undertaken to reduce smoking rates across the community."

"Whilst we have many programs targeted to promoting healthy lifestyles and reducing obesity this action plan sets out an agenda for government to work on. The goal of zero growth in obesity will only be realised if there is a sustained effort across all government policy areas and the changes are embraced across the community," the Chief Minister concluded.

The full action plan is available at:

- Statement ends -

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