Australia’s peak nutrition body welcomes the Government’s new Health Star Rating (HSR) front of pack labelling system, which will assist consumers to make informed, healthier choices when buying packaged foods.
However, the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) recognises that the food supply and the reasons for making food choices are extremely complex, and change to the food labelling system is not a magic bullet, but rather needs to be part of a larger health strategy.
The Association is calling for more innovative initiatives to influence eating behaviour change, slow weight gain of the Nation and limit the progression of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Australia has been waiting for a new national nutrition policy since 1992.
Quit Smoking initiatives would not be as successful had they been based on a single strategy. A range of campaigns and activities over a number of years is required to achieve successful changes in nutrition and the related health outcomes. DAA’s CEO, Claire Hewat echoes these sentiments.
‘Although the HSR system provides some structure for the way packaged foods are labelled, it does not necessarily change consumer behaviour enough to impact on disease progression. As Aristotle said, one swallow does not a summer make’ said Ms Hewat.
DAA also hopes the HSR system will be rolled out appropriately with communication and education to consumers, and have a thorough evaluation plan in place.
This campaign, aimed solely at labelling, comes at a time when the Public Health Nutrition workforce has been decimated; the new Primary Health Networks are moving to a secondary, rather than primary prevention focus; and the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health funding to states has been withdrawn.
Note: The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) is the professional body representing dietitians nationally. Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) is the only national credential recognised by the Australian Government, Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs and most private health funds as the quality standard for nutrition and dietetics services in Australia. For more information click here.