October 18, 2006 10:22am
Article from: AAP
THE Federal Government needed to do more to prevent the spread of obesity, including granting more Medicare funding to those seeking medical advice on weight problems, Labor said today.
Access Economics is to release a study today showing obesity costs Australia $21 billion a year.
The study will also show that in 20 years time, nearly a third of Australians will be obese.
Labor health spokeswoman Julia Gillard said Labor would consider introducing policies banning junk food advertising on children’s television if it won government.
The party could also impose tough health labelling laws on food.
She said Labor was waiting on the outcome of a Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) audit of junk food advertising before finalising its obesity policies.
“We are certainly concerned about the impact of junk food commercials on children’s pester power in the supermarket trying to make parents buy unhealthy food,” Ms Gillard said.
“This is a huge health crisis for this country, but Tony Abbott, the minister for health, is consistently on the public record as saying it’s nothing to do with him and nothing to do with this government,” Ms Gillard said today.
“Tony Abbott refuses to do anything substantial to deal with this looming health epidemic.”
She acknowledged that there was a large element of personal responsibility involved in obesity, but said the Government could still do more.
She said that currently preventative obesity advice from doctors was only covered by Medicare if the patient was in their mid-40s and they already had a risk factor.
“You should be able to get that advice throughout your life,” Ms Gillard said.
Meanwhile, Government Senator Guy Barnett said Australians must change their lifestyles to avoid an obesity “tsunami”.
“What the figures show is that it should make all of us review our lifestyle choices for us in Australia and it also shows that these costs are getting bigger not smaller,” Senator Barnett said on Channel 9.
“There are 3.2 million Australians obese today, but that figure will double by 2025 if we do nothing.
“We’ve got a tsunami coming towards Australia in terms of a health crisis and it’s going to swamp us if we stay the same course.”