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Tobacco Control Policy provides a model

Tobacco Control Policy provides a model for Unhealthy Food Regulation

A combination of Government regulation and public education for the control of obesity is required, similar to the successful tobacco control policy says a new report released today by Diabetes New Zealand, to coincide with World Diabetes Day.

“Tobacco control in New Zealand is a success story with smoking rates falling considerably since the 1970s, and the amount of tobacco consumed per adult continuing to fall each year. The same approach is required for the control of obesity if we are to stem the soaring rate of obesity and its impact on health,” says Murray Dear, President of Diabetes New Zealand.

“Tobacco control has had significant and ongoing financial support from successive governments despite initial public reticence, it has now become accepted practice. The driver of this support was research that clearly presented the health impacts from tobacco use. I believe we are likely to see similar public acceptance of measures to control unhealthy food intake, especially when consumed by children,” says Murray Dear.

“The greatest lesson to be learnt from tobacco control policy is that to be effective, interventions need to be a part of a comprehensive programme that would reduce consumption,” says Matthew Allen of Allen & Clarke Policy and Regulatory Specialists Ltd, who wrote the report.

Mr Allen says that a range of mechanisms used for tobacco control could be adopted to influence food consumption, and identifies what he regarded as the most effective tobacco control mechanisms. These include pricing mechanisms through taxation, mass media campaigns, restrictions on advertising and promotion by tobacco companies, smoking bans and restrictions, tobacco product content notification and cessation therapies.

Equivalent measures for controlling the consumption of unhealthy food could include fat taxes, public information campaigns, restriction of advertising aimed at children and school based intervention programmes and improved labeling on products.

“The differences between the food and tobacco industries however are significant. The food industry is much more complex and the link between diet and health is not as well understood as the link between smoking and ill health. Tobacco is associated in the public’s mind as being a public health issue, whereas obesity is often seen as a matter of private responsibility,” says Mr Allen.

Diabetes New Zealand considers obesity is a major public health issue requiring intervention through a comprehensive programme such as the tobacco control mechanisms.

There is an obesity epidemic in New Zealand, in turn leading to a diabetes epidemic.

“We must address and stem this epidemic in a co-ordinated manner, and we believe it requires significant public intervention and consider the successful tobacco control policy should be emulated for healthy food regulation,” says Murray Dear, President Diabetes New Zealand.

“We understand that we need to clearly present the health impacts of unhealthy food consumption through relevant research. We need to promote that research and find the optimal mix of interventions which reflect and fit the country’s social, economic, political, cultural and legal realities,” he says.

For further information Please contact Diabetes New Zealand President, Murray Dear, on 025-229-7047.

ENDS

Diabetes New Zealand

Diabetes New Zealand Inc. (DNZ) is a nationwide, non-governmental, non-profit membership organisation, which is an Incorporated Society. Established in February 1962, the aim of the organisation is to support its 13,500 members, 41 societies, as well as health professionals and members of the public involved with diabetes. Diabetes New Zealand works in collaboration with other health sector groups, not-for-profit organisations, government agencies and the government.

Contributions to Public Policy

Diabetes New Zealand takes an active role in contributing to public policy. We make submissions to government on issues affecting diabetes services and our members; we comission reports in order to encourage debate of the current health system and health policies in New Zealand, as well as the health of our country. On behalf of our members, we voice our concerns about public policy to the government. A series of reports are available on the DNZ website - www.diabetes.org.nz.

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