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Martin J.,Obesity Policy Coalition | Peeters A.,Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute | Honisett S.,Cancer Council Victoria | Mavoa H.,Deakin University | And 2 more authors.
Obesity Research and Clinical Practice | Year: 2014

Background Successful obesity prevention will require a leading role for governments, but internationally they have been slow to act. League tables of benchmark indicators of action can be a valuable advocacy and evaluation tool. Objective To develop a benchmarking tool for government action on obesity prevention, implement it across Australian jurisdictions and to publicly award the best and worst performers. Design A framework was developed which encompassed nine domains, reflecting best practice government action on obesity prevention: whole-of-government approaches; marketing restrictions; access to affordable, healthy food; school food and physical activity; food in public facilities; urban design and transport; leisure and local environments; health services, and; social marketing. A scoring system was used by non-government key informants to rate the performance of their government. National rankings were generated and the results were communicated to all Premiers/Chief Ministers, the media and the national obesity research and practice community. Results Evaluation of the initial tool in 2010 showed it to be feasible to implement and able to discriminate the better and worse performing governments. Evaluation of the rubric in 2011 confirmed this to be a robust and useful method. In relation to government action, the best performing governments were those with whole-of-government approaches, had extended common initiatives and demonstrated innovation and strong political will. Conclusion This new benchmarking tool, the Obesity Action Award, has enabled identification of leading government action on obesity prevention and the key characteristics associated with their success. We recommend this tool for other multi-state/country comparisons. © 2013 Asian Oceanian Association for the Study of Obesity. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Dixon H.,Center for Behavioural Research in Cancer | Scully M.,Center for Behavioural Research in Cancer | Niven P.,Center for Behavioural Research in Cancer | Kelly B.,University of Sydney | And 6 more authors.
Pediatric Obesity | Year: 2014

Summary What is already known about this subject Food marketing has come under scrutiny for its likely contribution to promoting unhealthy eating and obesity in children. There is limited published evidence regarding the effects of food packaging promotions on children. Nutrient content claims and sports celebrity endorsements on food packs influence adults to prefer energy-dense and nutrient-poor (EDNP) products bearing such promotions, especially among the majority who do not read the nutrition information panel. What this study adds This study experimentally tested pre-adolescent children's responses to three common food marketing techniques: nutrient content claims, sports celebrity endorsements and premium offers. On-pack nutrient content claims made pre-adolescents more likely to choose EDNP products and increased perceptions of their nutrient content. Sports celebrity endorsements made pre-adolescent boys more likely to choose EDNP products. Objectives To assess pre-adolescent children's responses to common child-oriented front-of-pack food promotions. Methods Between-subjects, web-based experiment with four front-of-pack promotion conditions on energy-dense and nutrient-poor (EDNP) foods: no promotion [control]; nutrient content claims; sports celebrity endorsements (male athletes) and premium offers. Participants were 1302 grade 5 and 6 children (mean age 11 years) from Melbourne, Australia. Participants chose their preferred product from a randomly assigned EDNP food pack and comparable healthier food pack then completed detailed product ratings. Child-oriented pack designs with colourful, cartooned graphics, fonts and promotions were used. Results Compared to the control condition, children were more likely to choose EDNP products featuring nutrient content claims (both genders) and sports celebrity endorsements (boys only). Perceptions of nutritional content were enhanced by nutrient content claims. Effects of promotions on some product ratings (but not choice) were negated when children referred to the nutrition information panel. Premium offers did not enhance children's product ratings or choice. Conclusions Nutrient content claims and sports celebrity endorsements influence pre-adolescent children's preferences towards EDNP food products displaying them. Policy interventions to reduce the impact of unhealthy food marketing to children should limit the use of these promotions. © 2013 The Authors. Pediatric Obesity © 2013 International Association for the Study of Obesity.

Morley B.,Center for Behavioural Research in Cancer | Martin J.,Obesity Policy Coalition | Niven P.,Center for Behavioural Research in Cancer | Wakefield M.,Center for Behavioural Research in Cancer
Health Promotion Journal of Australia | Year: 2012

Issue addressed: The study was designed to determine public acceptability of various forms of regulation to support a healthy eating environment. Methods: Telephone interviews were undertaken in June-July 2010 with a random sample of adults in Australia who were the main grocery buyer for their household. Results: Data were analysed for 1,511 adults. A clear majority of participants (80% or more) were in favour of traffic light and kilojoule menu labelling, reformulation to reduce the fat, salt and sugar content of processed foods, and regulation of broadcast and non-broadcast avenues used to market unhealthy food and drinks to children. Relatively less support (two-thirds or more), particularly among lower socioeconomic status participants, was shown for taxation policies and controls on food company sponsorship of sports and education programs. Despite the survey's focus on food marketing avenues and methods directed at children, for the most part non-parents were just as likely as parents to support restrictions. Conclusions: Overall, these findings indicate that there is strong public support for the introduction of policy initiatives aimed at creating a healthier food environment.

Backholer K.,Heart Health | Beauchamp A.,Heart Health | Ball K.,Deakin University | Turrell G.,Queensland University of Technology | And 3 more authors.
American Journal of Public Health | Year: 2014

We developed a theoretical framework to organize obesity prevention interventions by their likely impact on the socioeconomic gradient of weight. The degree to which an intervention involves individual agency versus structural change influences socioeconomic inequalities in weight. Agentic interventions, such as standalone social marketing, increase socioeconomic inequalities. Structural interventions, such as food procurement policies and restrictions on unhealthy foods in schools, show equal or greater benefit for lower socioeconomic groups. Many obesity prevention interventions belong to the agento- structural types of interventions, and account for the environment in whichhealth behaviors occur, but they require a level of individual agency for behavioral change, including workplace design to encourage exercise and fiscal regulation of unhealthy foods or beverages. Obesity prevention interventionsdiffer in their effectiveness across socioeconomic groups. Limiting further increases in socioeconomic inequalities in obesity requires implementation of structural interventions. Further empirical evaluation, especially of agento- structural type interventions, remains crucial.

Elliott T.,University of Sydney | Trevena H.,University of Sydney | Sacks G.,Deakin University | Dunford E.,University of Sydney | And 6 more authors.
Medical Journal of Australia | Year: 2014

Objective: To evaluate whether the Food and Health Dialogue (the Dialogue), established by the Australian Government in 2009, is having an impact on reducing premature death and disability caused by poor diet in Australia. Design and setting: We used information derived from the Dialogue website, media releases, communiqués and e-newsletters to evaluate the Dialogue's achievements from October 2009 to September 2013, using the RE-AIM (reach, efficacy, adoption, implementation and maintenance) framework. Data describing the processed foods marketed in Australia were extracted from an existing food composition database. Main outcome measures: Achievements of the Dialogue (goals, targets, actions and health outcomes). Results: The primary goal of the Dialogue was identified as "raising the nutritional profile of foods" to be achieved "through reformulation, consumer education and portion standardisation". Employing a public-private partnership model, the Dialogue has established a framework for collaboration between government, public health groups and industry. In the first 4 years, targets were set for 11 (8.9%) of a total of 124 possible action areas for food reformulation and portion standardisation. None were yet due to have been achieved. There was no evidence that any education programs had been implemented by the Dialogue. There are no indicators of the extent to which population exposure to target nutrients has changed or whether any positive or negative health impacts have ensued. Conclusions: The Dialogue has highly creditable goals but the mechanism for delivering on them has proved inadequate. Explicit processes and the outcomes to be delivered within defined timelines are required, along with a clear plan for remediation if they are not achieved.

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