We have submitted a response to the The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport inquiry into diabetes. The focus of our response is on Terms of Reference points 4 and 5 which explore obesity and the effectiveness of action through Government policies so far.
In summary, our key messages highlighted:
The need for urgent action to reduce health and wellbeing impacts from obesity, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
- The benefits of action to reduce risk and health impacts from obesity in Australia are clear for the community, health system and economy.
- We must implement the National Obesity Strategy with a suite of policies/interventions across prevention, treatment/management and stigma.
- It is critical to invest in prevention and healthy environments for all Australians (not just those at risk of obesity and diabetes). Most Australians are not meeting standards for healthy eating or physical activity.
- Small one-off initiatives won’t suffice. Australia needs coordinated and sustained action – supported by Government leadership
Action should be based on the evidence, and requires a suite of interventions
- An oversimplification of the health issue to focus just on personal responsibility, has led to lack of action, ineffective action, and harmful stigma over the years.
- As highlighted in the National Obesity Strategy, ‘the root causes of overweight and obesity are complex and deeply embedded in the way we live. It is not simply a lack of self-control.’
- A suite of prevention, treatment and stigma interventions could shift the dial in Australia. Like with other health conditions, a range of interventions are needed to improve health and reduce risks of further disease.
We are not starting from scratch
- Over the last ten years there have been a number of relevant inquiries and strategies which outline the evidence and opportunities for action. We are lacking action on strategies.
- The continuous cycle of inquiries and strategies every few years requires huge resources from Government teams and the NGO communities of lived experience, experts, clinicians, civil society groups and community leaders.
- Strategies and inquiries without action is keeping people busy but not leading to community benefit.
- We are hopeful that this Inquiry will lead to tangible change that will be communicated, including clear implementation objectives and transparency around action and impact.