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Policies for creating healthier food environments: increasing evidence and accountability for action
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Policies for creating healthier food environments: increasing evidence and accountability for action

Associate Professor Gary Sacks, Institution: Deakin University

2018 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2019-2023


Unhealthy diets and obesity are leading contributors to poor health in Australia. Improving population diets and addressing obesity requires a comprehensive societal response, including government policies and wide-scale action from the food industry. While there is global consensus on recommended policies and actions to create healthier food environments, their implementation has been slow and inadequate globally and in Australia. This research aims to support decision-makers to increase the degree of implementation of recommended policies, and increase the accountability of governments and the food industry for their roles in creating healthier food environments. The research program consists of three inter-related components. Firstly, the research will assess the extent to which governments (Federal and State/Territory) in Australia are implementing recommended policies, and make specific recommendations for each jurisdiction. Secondly, the research will examine the policies, commitments and actions of major food companies in Australia related to obesity prevention and nutrition, and compare them to international best practice. In so doing, the research will support Australian food companies to take action by highlighting areas of leadership, identifying good practice examples, and making specific recommendations for improvement. Thirdly, the research will assess the cost-effectiveness of a range of recommended policy options in the Australian context. This will provide important information for policy makers about the costs and potential benefits of different policy options. Overall, this research will make a substantial contribution to improving cardiovascular health in Australia by seeking to enhance the implementation of policies and actions for creating healthier food environments. It will provide new evidence to support improved policy decisions, and powerful mechanisms for holding governments and the food industry to account for taking recommended actions.

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