Action on food and drink marketing to help keep Canberra healthy

Released 08/09/2016

A range of measures to change the way unhealthy food and drink is marketed, particularly towards children, will be implemented in the ACT following extensive community consultation. The actions will focus on sporting clubs, businesses and ACT venues and events to help keep Canberra healthy.

Assistant Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the measures were designed to make it easier for Canberra families to eat healthy, keep active and avoid the unhealthy food and drink that can lead to real health problems for our community.

“Although we are a healthy community, almost two-thirds of adults and one in four children in the ACT are overweight or obese,” Minister Fitzharris said.

“To address this issue, help people stay healthy and take pressure off our health system, the ACT Government ran a community consultation in 2015 to seek community views on reducing the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks, and increase the promotion and availability of healthier options.

“The results showed that Canberrans support the government taking steps to reduce the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks, especially when aimed at children. So I’m pleased that today we are introducing a range of measures to tackle these issues.”

Minister Fitzharris said the measures the government will introduce are aimed at working with industry and young people to change behaviour and address unhealthy food and drink marketing. The measures will be backed up by $755,000 in funding under the Healthy Weight Initiative as part of the 2016-17 ACT Budget.

“The measures we will implement include:

  • Establishing a project to find innovative ways to provide healthier food and drink at sporting club canteens, and help sporting clubs broker ‘healthy’ sponsorships.
  • Partnering with business to install additional drinking water stations across the ACT, and develop a Water Friendly Cafe campaign to encourage and support food businesses to supply drinking water for free to patrons and passers-by.
  • Reviewing the costs and benefits of promoting healthy food and drink at ACT venues and events, with a view to introducing mandatory requirements, and initiate a competition to design healthy food and drink marketing that could be displayed in ACT Government settings.
  • Engaging with children and young people to get their views on strategies to reduce unhealthy marketing and increase healthier choices.
  • Implementing marketing and communications activities to motivate consumers towards healthier food and drink choices.

“In addition to these practical measures, the ACT Government will continue to advocate at a national level for a collaborative approach to reduce unhealthy food and drink marketing, and explore opportunities to incorporate health promotion principles in relevant ACT Government policies and legislation.

“The Government is also working collaboratively with five local businesses, through the Choose Healthier pilot project, to trial actions to increase the promotion and availability of healthier food and drinks, and reduce the marketing of unhealthy options. We released the results of this pilot last week in conjunction with the Canberra Business Chamber, and as a result we will invest $250,000 to expand it for a further two years and establish a Choose Healthier local business awards scheme.

“The ACT Government will also review the existing mandatory kilojoule display laws, and draw on the Australian Dietary Guidelines to develop definitions of ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ food and drink marketing.

“The Australian Dietary Guidelines include recommendations for healthy eating based on the latest available scientific evidence, and by developing clear definitions we will give industry some guidance about what healthy food and drink looks like.

“The ACT Government will work collaboratively with stakeholders, including businesses, sporting clubs and event organisers, in taking these initiatives forward. The actions proposed are predominantly voluntary, but other approaches may be considered.

“Through the Healthy Weight Initiative we are committed to supporting a healthy, active and productive community, where the healthy choice is the easy choice. I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to provide input into the food and drink marketing consultation. There are some great things we can do as a community to help address obesity, and these measures are a great start,” Minister Fitzharris said.

- Statement ends -

Section: Meegan Fitzharris, MLA | Media Releases

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