World Obesity Day on October 11 highlighted calls from both health professionals and more importantly local communities for industry to take greater responsibility for the obesity epidemic, emphasising the impact of the over-saturated advertising and supply of junk food products.
"With a proposal from KFC for a new outlet in Northam on the corner of Peel and East Streets the topic is very relevant," says our Regional Education Officer Melissa Pickering.
New research from our LiveLighter team shows a high degree of public support for restrictions on the sale of junk foods, with 72.4 per cent of WA adults supporting the restriction of the sale of junk food at children's sporting events and 60.9 per cent supporting the restriction of the sale and marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages in government buildings.
Melissa says that "while some people think obesity is just a matter of laziness or lack of self-control, the obesity challenge cannot be tackled by blaming individuals and calling only for greater personal responsibility.
"Obesity is not just a lifestyle choice or a lack of will-power, it's safe to say that the two-thirds of the adult population who are overweight or obese would not choose to be that way if it was as simple as that.
"Environmental factors influence weight as well as individual behaviour. We live in a complex obesogenic environment where high energy products are readily available, and our work-focused lifestyles increasingly demand inactivity throughout the day, when combined, this leads to weight gain."
Melissa says the best solution to a growing obesity problem is an evidence-based combined approach that empowers people to make healthy choices.
"While it's important for individuals to make healthier choices, we know the environment we live in, including junk food availability greatly impacts our ability to make those choices, so it's vital that industry starts taking responsibility for this if any real change is to occur.
"We know that our environment has an enormous impact on our health, and more junk food and junk drink outlets in our community is not going to help people living with obesity in our community.
"We just want people to enjoy the best health they can.This means less promotion of junk food, improving access to healthy food and the introduction of better food labelling. We'd also like infrastructure in place such for pedestrian-friendly environments and green spaces to encourage people to be more active."
To find out more visit the Shire of Northam website to view the proposal and submit your comments.