Response to Senate report on obesity epidemic in Australia

The George Institute, Australia welcomes the Senate report on the obesity epidemic into Australia, released December 2018. The report has recommended a range of measures, including the establishment of a national obesity taskforce, that we support and would like to see greater investment in.

Earlier this year, Professor Bruce Neal, Deputy Executive Director of The George Institute, Australia, and Alexandra Jones, Research Fellow at The George Institute, Australia, appeared before the Senate Select Committee to recommend solutions to the growing obesity epidemic.

The George Institute’s Professor Bruce Neal welcomed many of the recommendations of the report saying: “The Senate report is an important first step in ensuring Australia prioritizes whole of government approach to tackle the obesity epidemic.

“The recommendations from the Inquiry provide a roadmap to equip the health system, government, industry and consumers with the tools needed to address this growing burden.


Obesity is one of the biggest health challenges facing Australia – we need immediate, coordinated action and real commitment from all parties and across all sectors to stop the unnecessary and devastating burden of chronic diseases.


Funding of these recommendations will be essential to their success.”

The report recommends the Taskforce be made up of government, health, industry and community leaders and oversee the proposed obesity strategy.

Ms Jones, who appeared before the committee in August on behalf of the Food Governance Node at the Charles Perkins Centre, added: “We, in particular, welcome the timely recommendation to make the Health Star Rating system mandatory by 2020.

“A review of Health Star Rating system is currently reaching its conclusions. Our research has shown that the system works well overall but must be strengthened and made mandatory to work best for consumers.”

The report from the Senate Select Committee into the Obesity Epidemic also called for restrictions on unhealthy food and drink advertising on free-to-air television until 9 pm and a national standard for nutritional menu labeling in restaurants. Improving access to fresh food for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was also a priority, as was more public funding for education programs.

The inquiry was made up of senators from all major parties and chaired by Senator Richard Di Natale, leader of the Greens Party. It heard submissions from a range of stakeholders in August, 2018 including submissions from The George Institute’s Professor Bruce Neal and Alexandra Jones.