‘Just say no’ Mr Dutton:
Public health experts believe the Federal Government should be saying 'no' to junk food & alcohol influences with our kids.
Date: January 15 2014
Governments can’t ignore their own responsibility when it comes to our children’s health, according to Associate Professor Heather Yeatman from the University of Wollongong.
"Telling parents to ‘just say no’ to their children’s requests for junk food is so simplistic as to be laughable," she says.
"Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton rightly identified that 'The Government can’t and shouldn’t be in people’s kitchens,' but they certainly should be taking much more of their own responsibility.
"Governments can just say no to limit junk food advertising to our children; no to the sponsorship of children’s sports by junk food companies, and no to the high levels of sugars, salt and fat in processed foods. It would appear that just saying no is not as easy as the Health Minister suggests," says A/Professor Yeatman.
The CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Michael Moore, says that while the PHAA shares the Minister’s and other health and medical organisations’ concerns about overweight and obesity, laying the blame on parents is not a solution to the problem.
"We know that the industry’s self-regulation advertising code is not effective when it comes to controlling junk food advertising; we know that the junk food industry (together with the alcohol industry) is now associated with almost all sports codes, and in particular children’s sports; and we know that sugar is 23-24% of our energy intake from foods (it should be less than 20%) and saturated fat is 13-14 % of energy (should be less than 10%).
“We have been working with government to bring about changes in these areas, but for the sake of our children, more change needs to happen, more quickly,” says Mr Moore. “One initiative that it ready to be implemented is Front of Pack labelling – information that will assist parents to select healthy foods. This should start immediately.”
We know from the actions taken by governments on smoking that such interventions do make a significant difference. We also know from the smoking issue that telling people to ‘just say no’ doesn’t work.
“For the Minister to say to parents ‘just say no’ trivialises the importance of childhood overweight and obesity. Our children’s health is more important.
"Government’s should be the ones to ‘Just say no’ to industry influence over our children’s lives."