Recommendation to include local government in National Obesity Taskforce

The Senate Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic in Australia this week released its final report, highlighting the already significant health and economic impacts of rising obesity levels upon Australia’s community.

A wide-range of stakeholders made submissions to the Committee’s inquiry or appeared at its public hearings to urge for targeted health interventions, broad education campaigns and the need for a National Obesity Taskforce. The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) joined ALGA to represent council views at the Melbourne hearing of the Committee in September.

The Committee heard Australia’s obesity rate of 28 per cent of the population aged 15 and over is the fifth highest among OECD countries, while Australia’s rate of childhood obesity is increasing rapidly. The Committee also heard that Indigenous children and adults were more likely than their non-Indigenous counterparts to be overweight or obese.

In its third recommendation, the report seeks the inclusion of local government in a National Obesity Taskforce, stating:

The committee recommends the establishment of a National Obesity Taskforce, comprising representatives across all knowledge sectors from federal, state, and local government, and alongside stakeholders from the NGO, private sectors and community members. The Taskforce should sit within the Commonwealth Department of Health and be responsible for all aspects of government policy direction, implementation and the management of funding.

The report states that the committee is of the view that a whole-of-government approach at the federal level is required to develop, resource and deliver a comprehensive National Obesity Strategy. The committee believes that key to the success of a national strategy is the establishment of a National Obesity Taskforce.

“The inclusion of all stakeholders is critical to the taskforce adopting a coordinated response to improve diets and lifestyles, and reduce the burden of chronic disease in Australia,” the report said.

A full copy of the report is available on the Committee’s website.