During the past forty years global rates of overweight and obesity have risen dramatically. In 2010 more than 155 million children worldwide were overweight (more than one in ten) and of these approximately 30-45 million were obese, or between two and three per cent of the world’s 5-17 year-old children.
In Australia, more than 14 million people fall within the overweight or obese range, and Australia is ranked as one of the fattest nations in the developed world. The prevalence of obesity in Australia has more than doubled in the past 20 years, and children are at particular risk of overweight and obesity.
But the answer is probably not a ban on all marketing to children. In the first instance, simply the practicalities of a blanket ban would be incredibly difficult, particularly in trying to keep up with the constantly changing promotional environment.
Medical-legal partnerships have broken down the barriers to accessible legal services for people experiencing health issues in the United States. Such programs demonstrate the health benefits of effective legal advocacy on behalf of patients and Australia could learn from this model to improve access to justice and deliver better health outcomes.
When you walk into Hungry Jacks, or McDonalds, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, and order your Whopper Value Meal, Big Mac Value Meal, or Ultimate Burger Meal, what does 1430kj, 2590kj and 3800kj (approx.) mean to you? Probably not very much.
But, instead of esoteric energy counts, what if you were confronted with something more comprehensible, like 75 minutes of sprinting (Medium Whopper Value Meal), or a 2 hour game of squash (Large Big Mac Value Meal), or, perhaps 5 hours of fast swimming (Ultimate Burger Meal)? Would you think again about buying all that food?
I think you would.
It’s fair to say that homelessness is at crisis point in Australia. According to the 2006 census, almost 105,000 Australians were homeless on any given night.
And the problem clearly hasn’t disappeared over the past six years, with more than 91,000 Australians seeking assistance from specialist homeless services in the three months to September 2011. One in five of those people were aged under ten.
World Breastfeeding Week was unfortunately marked this year by a focus on an off-the-cuff remark by Brazilian-American supermodel Gisele Bündchen that there should be a worldwide law forcing mothers to breastfeed their babies for six months.
As ridiculous as the remark may seem, the supermodel’s desire to see other mothers breastfeed for up to six months in fact aligns with the strong scientific evidence of the health and other benefits breastfeeding brings for both mother and baby.