Make health star label system mandatory for recalcitrant food industry

29 Jul 2013

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the Federal and State Governments should make health star ratings for packaged food mandatory following moves by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) to sabotage an important weapon in the war against obesity.

Dr Hambleton said the AFGC has withdrawn its support for the voluntary health star rating system, which was adopted by Food and Health Ministers last month after years of development, claiming high costs and rating anomalies.

“It is irresponsible for the food industry to walk away from the new system at this late stage,” Dr Hambleton said.

“The AFGC has been heavily involved in discussions with governments and public health advocates for more than 18 months and has had plenty of opportunities to voice any concerns they may have had.

“The recalcitrant food industry is clearly putting profits ahead of public health by undermining a voluntary system it helped to put in place.

“Governments must now bring the industry into line by making the system mandatory.”

Dr Hambleton said more and more people are at high risk of serious disease and premature death from the obesity epidemic in Australia.

“Tackling the high rates of overweight and obesity in Australia requires a range of measures, including improving our patterns of food and drink consumption.

“Consumers must be empowered to identify and choose healthy food, and research shows that the health star rating system is an easier and more effective way to improve consumer choices.”

According to the Australian Health Survey:

  • in 2011-12, 62.8 per cent of Australians aged 18 years and over were overweight or obese (35.3 per cent overweight and 27.5 per cent obese); and
  • the prevalence of overweight and obesity increased in Australia from 56.3 per cent in 1995 to 61.2 per cent in 2007-08. 

Overweight and obese people have higher risks of developing coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers (including endometrial, breast, and colon), hypertension, stroke, liver and gallbladder disease, sleep apnoea and respiratory problems, osteoarthritis, and gynaecological problems.


29 July 2013

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