Sa And Wa Governments Joint 'gold Medal' Winners For Obesity Action

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21st October 2010, 10:45am - Views: 1153

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SA and WA governments joint ‘Gold Medal’ winners for obesity action 

NT government awarded annual ‘Couch Potato’ 

The South Australian and Western Australian Governments have been awarded a ‘Gold

Medal’ for their action on obesity prevention at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the

Australian New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS) in Sydney today. 

In contrast, in a tight contest, the Northern Territory Government has the dubious honour

of receiving the annual ‘Couch Potato’ award for its lack of progress on implementing

obesity prevention initiatives - just pipping New South Wales.

The annual national ‘Couch Potato’ awards were developed by ANZOS to recognise

Australia’s best and worst performing state or territory in relation to obesity prevention


The awards are given on the basis of rating and comparing progress across a range of

obesity prevention priorities including enabling cheaper and easier access to healthy

food, reducing the marketing and promotion of unhealthy foods and creating

opportunities for exercise through better urban design and access to facilities. 

Monash University public health researcher, Dr Anna Peeters, said that most states

appeared to have ‘upped the ante’ and had recognised the urgency of the obesity

epidemic this year and broadened the scope and increased the number of activities.   

“What we’ve seen this year is that leadership is the vital differentiator; those states and

territories with strong commitment and buy-in across government are also those

jurisdictions which are leading the way. 

“The South Australian and Western Australian Governments have made significant

progress this year to topple Queensland, which has won the Gold Medal for the previous

two years.  What these three states share is strong leadership in policies to improve the

food supplied in various important settings. They’ve gone beyond healthy food policies in

schools, expanding into healthcare, government and sporting facilities. We would really

like to see the other states and territories following this lead,” said Dr Peeters.  

Dr Peeters also commends two Governments for initiating the implementation of

progressive policies -Victoria’s kilojoule labelling in fast food outlets and the ACT’s

legislation to increase competition between supermarkets in order to lower food prices.  

NSW is also recognised for its leadership in advocating for national restrictions on the

marketing of unhealthy foods to children. 

Despite improvements across the board, the Society warned that nationally there were

still major holes in a comprehensive approach to obesity prevention. In particular, the

lack of progress in restricting junk food advertising to children was counter-productive to

the activities that the leading states and territories were undertaking.    

How each state and territory measured up

The criteria checklist requires states and territories to score government action over a

number of categories including policies, law reform, food access, social marketing

campaigns, as well as state-wide monitoring and evaluation.  These are assessed by the

ANZOS Public Health Sub-Committee which collates the responses from experts in each

state and territory and assigns the awards.


Gold Medal Award SA and WA












Couch Potato Award NT

1. South Australia – Gold Medal Award 

“South Australia’s leadership is demonstrated by a strategic and integrated approach

across government, from social marketing, through capacity building, to health services

and urban design,” said Dr Peeters. 

Initiatives of note include: Eat Well Be Active Healthy Weight Strategy and the expansion

of the flagship Obesity Prevention And Lifestyle program - a community based childhood

obesity prevention project driven by the Health Minister with support from the Premier. 

The new research and evaluation centre PANORAMA also informs the Strategy


ANZOS highly commends South Australia’s new healthy food and drink choice policy for

healthcare facilities, and its involvement in three urban planning initiatives including the

NHF led ACTive living coalition in urban design and transport. 


Western Australia  - Gold Medal Award 

“Western Australia also has a strong bipartisan, whole of government approach,

extending its influence through a range of initiatives such as its Premier’s Physical

Activity Taskforce, monitoring and evaluation of population data and strong, evaluated

social marketing campaigns such as ‘Draw the line’, ‘Go for 2 & 5’ and ‘Find 30 every

day’,” said Dr Peeters. 

ANZOS commends the Western Australian government’s excellent policy on food in

public facilities, which it is now looking to be expanded to sporting venues, and its model

of funding through the health promotion agency Healthway supporting reforms around

sponsorship and food supply in sports settings.

2. Queensland 

“Queensland continues to demonstrate leadership with its Q2 strategy and sets the

standard around improving the food supply, from schools, to health services, to sporting

facilities.  Queensland also has developed some novel approaches, such as development

of a land access strategy and regular monitoring of the healthy food basket price and

accessibility,” said Dr Peeters.

This year has also seen the development of Making Tracks, focused on closing the gap in

health outcomes for Indigenous Queenslanders. ANZOS commends the development of

the Food for Sport guidelines and the SEPAHE (Supportive Environments for Physical

Activity and Healthy Eating) Project.

3. Victoria 

“Victoria’s improvement in the ranking is a reflection of a number of novel initiatives,

including Australia’s first kilojoule labelling on fast food menus,” said Dr Peeters.  

Other important initiatives include the recently announced Pedestrian Access Strategy, the

inclusion of health as an objective in the Planning Act, and the establishment of the Inter-

Departmental Committee on Food Policy. ANZOS recognises the WorkHealth initiative

and hopes to see further linked initiatives to increase the capacity of the workplace for

prevention.  The government will establish a centre for intervention research and policy on

chronic disease early next year.



ANZOS particularly commends the establishment of the Food Security Council this year,

and Tasmania’s progress of policy around kilojoule menu labelling. 

“Tasmania has progressed towards a more integrated government approach through the

Premier’s Physical Activity Council. Other areas of strength for Tasmania were their

extensive social marketing, and a focus on preventive health, including government

supported telephone health coaching,” said Dr Peeters.



ANZOS commends the ACT’s policy on allowing access to schools on weekends and after

hours and their action with legislation to increase competition between supermarkets and

lower food prices. The whole of government Chronic Disease Strategy provides a solid

foundation for further actions. We look forward to seeing the development of a policy

around food supply in public health and other government facilities in the near future. 

6. New South Wales

“New South Wales ranked sixth this year reflecting the potential to integrate a number of

excellent initiatives to provide a strong, state-wide approach. This would build on initiatives

such as the NSW Premier’s Council of Active Living which this year launched the NSW

Bike Plan and includes excellent monitoring and evaluation,” said Dr Peeters. 

ANZOS commends the government’s role in supporting national food marketing

restrictions and the Premier’s advocacy for national mandatory labelling of fast foods

menus. ANZOS looks forward to seeing the realisation of an effective statewide initiative,

including a settings-based approach to prevention and building on their hospital food

policy to move into other government funded and/or operated facilities.

7. Northern Territory 

Dr Peeters said that the Northern Territory had some unique attributes that limited its

ability to compete with other states in terms of scale and issues relating to regional and

remote communities; however it did have some programs in place which showed real

potential such as the Nutrition And Physical Activity Program and the establishment of free

access to the Leanyer leisure park in Darwin.


Media contact:

Dr Anna Peeters – 0400 612 427 

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