Sustainable Health Review outlines plans for obesity and alcohol

Posted 10 Apr 2019.

Cancer Council WA welcomes overdue prevention focus
New State Govt Sustainable Health Review outlines plans for obesity and alcohol

Today we applaud the state Government for it's commitment to increase the investment in prevention to five per cent of total health expenditure by July 2029, as it releases its Sustainable Health Review report.

One in three cancers can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle.

Our Make Smoking History campaign is testament to the value of prevention investment. The decline in smoking rates in WA is attributable to the sustained, well-funded anti-smoking campaign, taxation and education. We're pleased to see these learnings now being implemented to tackle two of our biggest emerging health issues, alcohol and obesity.

We welcome the target to halt the rise in obesity in WA by July 2024 and have the highest percentage of population with a healthy weight of all states in Australia by July 2029.

Western Australians are the heaviest they have ever been, with 32 per cent of people now classified as obese, and 37 per cent overweight. For the first time, there are more people in WA that are obese than categorised as either healthy or underweight (31 per cent).

Being overweight significantly increases your risk of 13 different types of cancer, including breast, bowel, kidney, liver, endometrial, ovarian, stomach, oesophagus, gallbladder, pancreas and prostate cancers. It's estimated 4,000 Australian cancer cases each year are caused by obesity or overweight.

Tackling obesity and overweight requires a multi-level and long-term strategy. Measures such as banning junk food advertising on state assets, protecting children from junk food advertising, and introducing a sugary drinks tax are all important and achievable steps that we hope to see implemented as soon as possible.

We also welcome the target to reduce harmful alcohol use by 10 per cent by July 2024.

For three decades we've known alcohol use is a cause of cancer. It's estimated more than 3000 cancer cases in Australia each year are alcohol-related. Alcohol is a known risk factor for cancer, particularly those of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, breast, bowel and liver.

Alarmingly, WA adults currently drink at a higher level than the national average. The sobering truth is there's no safe level of consumption when it comes to cancer risk.

We support a minimum price as one of many steps required to curb excessive drinking and reduce the cancer burden within our most vulnerable communities. There's strong evidence that a floor price will play a substantial role in a comprehensive approach to prevent short and long-term alcohol-related harm.

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