Addressing the issues of chronic disease, climate change and social inequality are national priorities for Australia. In each of these areas food policy plays a crucial role yet the approach to date has been fragmented and as such unable to respond in a meaningful and coherent way.
A National Integrated Food Policy
The PHAA believes that Australia urgently needs a national, integrated food policy across all areas of government - specifically incorporating agriculture and fisheries, health, education, social inclusion, treasury, innovation and the environment - to ensure we are able to better manage the environmental and health problems that are already apparent, as well as adapt to new challenges.
The PHAA believes it is possible to establish a food policy framework that ensures the population has access to a nutritionally adequate food supply, and one that also:
- actively works to promote health and prevent the chronic diseases to which Australians are most at risk;
- is based on food choices that are environmentally sustainable;
- is conducive to the social and cultural practices of all Australians; and
- is socially just at a local, national and global level.
This policy would then underpin any government recommendations in relation to foods and those related policy areas that impact on the food system.
Dietary Guideline Review - beyond business as usual
The PHAA believes that there is an immediate opportunity to apply this thinking to the current review of The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Dietary Guidelines. This is a significant opportunity not to continue to do business as usual but to challenge the current thinking to adopt a new approach that can actively address the pressing issues of chronic disease, climate change and social inequality.
It is imperative we act now. There is a significant time lag between the review of public health nutrition recommendations and their subsequent opportunity to impact on the consumption patterns of Australians.