Co-author email: AW: email@example.com
High Income Country Efforts
Progress on obesity prevention over 20 years in Australia and New Zealand
Article first published online: 23 OCT 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Obesity Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the International Association for the Study of Obesity.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Special Issue: Program and Policy Options for Preventing Obesity in the Low, Middle, and Transitional Income Countries
Volume 14, Issue Supplement S2, pages 60–68, November 2013
How to Cite
Swinburn, B. and Wood, A. (2013), Progress on obesity prevention over 20 years in Australia and New Zealand. Obesity Reviews, 14: 60–68. doi: 10.1111/obr.12103
- Issue published online: 23 OCT 2013
- Article first published online: 23 OCT 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 9 SEP 2013 06:50AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 14 AUG 2013
- Manuscript Received: 8 AUG 2013
- Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center
- University of North Carolina Nutrition Transition Program
- Food industry;
- government action;
The lessons learned from over 20 years of obesity prevention efforts in Australia and New Zealand are presented. The obesity epidemic started in the 1980s but poor monitoring systems meant the rise in obesity prevalence initially went undetected. In the 1990s, experts started advocating for government action; however, it was the rapid increase in media reports on obesity in the early 2000s which created the pressure for action. Several, comprehensive reports produced some programme investment but no regulatory policies were implemented. The powerful food industry lobby ensured this lack of policies on front-of-pack food labelling, restrictions on unhealthy food marketing to children, or taxes on unhealthy foods. The New Zealand government even backpedalled by rescinding healthy school food guidelines and withdrawing funding for the comprehensive national obesity strategy. In 2007, Australian Governments started a major long term-investment in preventive health in order to improve economic productivity. Other positive initiatives, especially in Australia, were: the establishment of several advocacy organizations; successful, long-term, whole-of-community projects reducing childhood obesity; a national knowledge exchange system for practitioners; and some innovative programmes and social marketing. However, despite multiple reports and strong advocacy, key recommended regulatory policies remain unimplemented, largely due to the private sector interests dominating public policy development.