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Christoforou A.,University of Sydney | Snowdon W.,Pacific Research Center for the Prevention of Obesity and Non Communicable Diseases | Laesango N.,Ministry of Health | Vatucawaqa S.,Nauru Public Health Center | And 7 more authors.
Heart Lung and Circulation | Year: 2015

Background: Most populations are consuming too much salt which is the main contributor of high blood pressure, a leading risk factor of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The South Pacific Office of the World Health Organization has been facilitating the development of salt reduction strategies in Pacific Island Countries and areas (PICs). The objective of this analysis was to review progress to date and identify regional actions needed to support PICs and ensure they achieve the global target to reduce population salt intake by 30% by 2025. Methods: Relevant available national food, health and non-communicable disease (NCD) plans from all 22 PICs were reviewed. NCD co-ordinators provided updates and relayed experiences through semi-structured interviews. All activities were systematically categorised according to an existing salt reduction framework for the development of salt reduction strategies. Results: Salt reduction consultations had been held in 14 countries and final strategies or action plans developed in nine of these, with drafts available in a further three. Three other countries had integrated salt reduction into NCD strategic plans. Baseline monitoring of salt intake had been undertaken in three countries, salt levels in foods in nine countries and salt knowledge, attitude and behaviour surveys in four countries. Most countries were at early stages of implementation and identified limited resources as a barrier to action. Planned salt reduction strategies included work with food industry or importers, implementing regional salt reduction targets, reducing salt levels in school and hospital meals, behaviour change campaigns, and monitoring and evaluation. Conclusions: There had been good progress on salt reduction planning in PICs. The need for increased capacity to effectively implement agreed activities, supported by regional standards and the establishment of improved monitoring systems, were identified as important steps to ensure the potential cardiovascular health benefits of salt reduction could be fully realised in the region. © 2014 Australian and New Zealand Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgeons (ANZSCTS) and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ).


Lee A.,Queensland University of Technology | Mhurchu C.N.,University of Auckland | Sacks G.,Deakin University | Swinburn B.,University of Auckland | And 20 more authors.
Obesity Reviews | Year: 2013

Summary: Food prices and food affordability are important determinants of food choices, obesity and non-communicable diseases. As governments around the world consider policies to promote the consumption of healthier foods, data on the relative price and affordability of foods, with a particular focus on the difference between 'less healthy' and 'healthy' foods and diets, are urgently needed. This paper briefly reviews past and current approaches to monitoring food prices, and identifies key issues affecting the development of practical tools and methods for food price data collection, analysis and reporting. A step-wise monitoring framework, including measurement indicators, is proposed. 'Minimal' data collection will assess the differential price of 'healthy' and 'less healthy' foods; 'expanded' monitoring will assess the differential price of 'healthy' and 'less healthy' diets; and the 'optimal' approach will also monitor food affordability, by taking into account household income. The monitoring of the price and affordability of 'healthy' and 'less healthy' foods and diets globally will provide robust data and benchmarks to inform economic and fiscal policy responses. Given the range of methodological, cultural and logistical challenges in this area, it is imperative that all aspects of the proposed monitoring framework are tested rigorously before implementation. © 2013 The Authors. Obesity Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the International Association for the Study of Obesity.


Kelly B.,University of Wollongong | King L.,University of Sydney | Baur L.,University of Sydney | Rayner M.,University of Oxford | And 21 more authors.
Obesity Reviews | Year: 2013

Summary: Food and non-alcoholic beverage marketing is recognized as an important factor influencing food choices related to non-communicable diseases. The monitoring of populations' exposure to food and non-alcoholic beverage promotions, and the content of these promotions, is necessary to generate evidence to understand the extent of the problem, and to determine appropriate and effective policy responses. A review of studies measuring the nature and extent of exposure to food promotions was conducted to identify approaches to monitoring food promotions via dominant media platforms. A step-wise approach, comprising 'minimal', 'expanded' and 'optimal' monitoring activities, was designed. This approach can be used to assess the frequency and level of exposure of population groups (especially children) to food promotions, the persuasive power of techniques used in promotional communications (power of promotions) and the nutritional composition of promoted food products. Detailed procedures for data sampling, data collection and data analysis for a range of media types are presented, as well as quantifiable measurement indicators for assessing exposure to and power of food and non-alcoholic beverage promotions. The proposed framework supports the development of a consistent system for monitoring food and non-alcoholic beverage promotions for comparison between countries and over time. © 2013 The Authors. Obesity Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the International Association for the Study of Obesity.


Neal B.,University of Sydney | Sacks G.,Deakin University | Swinburn B.,Deakin University | Swinburn B.,University of Auckland | And 21 more authors.
Obesity Reviews | Year: 2013

Summary: A food supply that delivers energy-dense products with high levels of salt, saturated fats and trans fats, in large portion sizes, is a major cause of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The highly processed foods produced by large food corporations are primary drivers of increases in consumption of these adverse nutrients. The objective of this paper is to present an approach to monitoring food composition that can both document the extent of the problem and underpin novel actions to address it. The monitoring approach seeks to systematically collect information on high-level contextual factors influencing food composition and assess the energy density, salt, saturated fat, trans fats and portion sizes of highly processed foods for sale in retail outlets (with a focus on supermarkets and quick-service restaurants). Regular surveys of food composition are proposed across geographies and over time using a pragmatic, standardized methodology. Surveys have already been undertaken in several high- and middle-income countries, and the trends have been valuable in informing policy approaches. The purpose of collecting data is not to exhaustively document the composition of all foods in the food supply in each country, but rather to provide information to support governments, industry and communities to develop and enact strategies to curb food-related NCDs. © 2013 The Authors. Obesity Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the International Association for the Study of Obesity.


Swinburn B.,University of Auckland | Swinburn B.,Deakin University | Vandevijvere S.,University of Auckland | Kraak V.,Deakin University | And 20 more authors.
Obesity Reviews | Year: 2013

Summary: Government action is essential to increase the healthiness of food environments and reduce obesity, diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and their related inequalities. This paper proposes a monitoring framework to assess government policies and actions for creating healthy food environments. Recommendations from relevant authoritative organizations and expert advisory groups for reducing obesity and NCDs were examined, and pertinent components were incorporated into a comprehensive framework for monitoring government policies and actions. A Government Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) was developed, which comprises a 'policy' component with seven domains on specific aspects of food environments, and an 'infrastructure support' component with seven domains to strengthen systems to prevent obesity and NCDs. These were revised through a week-long consultation process with international experts. Examples of good practice statements are proposed within each domain, and these will evolve into benchmarks established by governments at the forefront of creating and implementing food policies for good health. A rating process is proposed to assess a government's level of policy implementation towards good practice. The Food-EPI will be pre-tested and piloted in countries of varying size and income levels. The benchmarking of government policy implementation has the potential to catalyse greater action to reduce obesity and NCDs. © 2013 The Authors. Obesity Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the International Association for the Study of Obesity.


Swinburn B.,University of Auckland | Swinburn B.,Deakin University | Sacks G.,Deakin University | Vandevijvere S.,University of Auckland | And 19 more authors.
Obesity Reviews | Year: 2013

Summary: Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) dominate disease burdens globally and poor nutrition increasingly contributes to this global burden. Comprehensive monitoring of food environments, and evaluation of the impact of public and private sector policies on food environments is needed to strengthen accountability systems to reduce NCDs. The International Network for Food and Obesity/NCDs Research, Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS) is a global network of public-interest organizations and researchers that aims to monitor, benchmark and support public and private sector actions to create healthy food environments and reduce obesity, NCDs and their related inequalities. The INFORMAS framework includes two 'process' modules, that monitor the policies and actions of the public and private sectors, seven 'impact' modules that monitor the key characteristics of food environments and three 'outcome' modules that monitor dietary quality, risk factors and NCD morbidity and mortality. Monitoring frameworks and indicators have been developed for 10 modules to provide consistency, but allowing for stepwise approaches ('minimal', 'expanded', 'optimal') to data collection and analysis. INFORMAS data will enable benchmarking of food environments between countries, and monitoring of progress over time within countries. Through monitoring and benchmarking, INFORMAS will strengthen the accountability systems needed to help reduce the burden of obesity, NCDs and their related inequalities. © 2013 The Authors. Obesity Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the International Association for the Study of Obesity.


Ni Mhurchu C.,University of Auckland | Vandevijvere S.,University of Auckland | Waterlander W.,University of Auckland | Thornton L.E.,Deakin University | And 6 more authors.
Obesity Reviews | Year: 2013

Summary: Retail food environments are increasingly considered influential in determining dietary behaviours and health outcomes. We reviewed the available evidence on associations between community (type, availability and accessibility of food outlets) and consumer (product availability, prices, promotions and nutritional quality within stores) food environments and dietary outcomes in order to develop an evidence-based framework for monitoring the availability of healthy and unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages in retail food environments. Current evidence is suggestive of an association between community and consumer food environments and dietary outcomes; however, substantial heterogeneity in study designs, methods and measurement tools makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions. The use of standardized tools to monitor local food environments within and across countries may help to validate this relationship. We propose a step-wise framework to monitor and benchmark community and consumer retail food environments that can be used to assess density of healthy and unhealthy food outlets; measure proximity of healthy and unhealthy food outlets to homes/schools; evaluate availability of healthy and unhealthy foods in-store; compare food environments over time and between regions and countries; evaluate compliance with local policies, guidelines or voluntary codes of practice; and determine the impact of changes to retail food environments on health outcomes, such as obesity. © 2013 The Authors. Obesity Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the International Association for the Study of Obesity.


Vandevijvere S.,University of Auckland | Monteiro C.,University of Sao Paulo | Krebs-Smith S.M.,U.S. National Cancer Institute | Lee A.,Queensland University of Technology | And 7 more authors.
Obesity Reviews | Year: 2013

Summary: INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support) aims to monitor and benchmark the healthiness of food environments globally. In order to assess the impact of food environments on population diets, it is necessary to monitor population diet quality between countries and over time. This paper reviews existing data sources suitable for monitoring population diet quality, and assesses their strengths and limitations. A step-wise framework is then proposed for monitoring population diet quality. Food balance sheets (FBaS), household budget and expenditure surveys (HBES) and food intake surveys are all suitable methods for assessing population diet quality. In the proposed 'minimal' approach, national trends of food and energy availability can be explored using FBaS. In the 'expanded' and 'optimal' approaches, the dietary share of ultra-processed products is measured as an indicator of energy-dense, nutrient-poor diets using HBES and food intake surveys, respectively. In addition, it is proposed that pre-defined diet quality indices are used to score diets, and some of those have been designed for application within all three monitoring approaches. However, in order to enhance the value of global efforts to monitor diet quality, data collection methods and diet quality indicators need further development work. © 2013 The Authors. Obesity Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the International Association for the Study of Obesity.


Sacks G.,Deakin University | Mialon M.,Deakin University | Vandevijvere S.,University of Auckland | Trevena H.,University of Sydney | And 5 more authors.
Critical Public Health | Year: 2015

Unhealthy food environments are known to be major drivers of diet-related non-communicable diseases globally, and there is an imperative for major food companies to be publicly accountable for their actions to improve the healthiness of food environments. This paper examines the prevalence of publicly available policies and commitments of major packaged food and soft drink manufacturers, and fast-food restaurants in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji with respect to reducing food marketing to children and product (re)formulation. In each country, the most prominent companies in each sector were selected. Company policies, commitments and relevant industry initiatives were gleaned from company and industry association websites. In Australia and New Zealand, there are a higher proportion of companies with publicly available marketing and formulation policies than in Fiji. However, even in Australia, a large proportion of the most prominent food companies do not have publicly available policies. Where they exist, policies on food marketing to children generally focus on those aged less than 12, do not apply to all types of media, marketing channels and techniques, and do not provide transparency with respect to the products to which the policies apply. Product formulation policies, where they exist, focus mostly on salt reduction and changes to the make-up of overall product portfolios, and do not generally address saturated fat, added sugar and energy reduction. In the absence of strong policies and corresponding actions by the private sector, it is likely that government action (e.g. through co-regulation or legislation) will be needed to drive improved company performance. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

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