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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3892 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

get the opportunity to compete within their own peer groups. It has been done before and it can be done again.

Mr Speaker, I would like to conclude by saying that we also want to encourage schools to put in place sensible food programs so that school tuck shops can disburse healthy food. Schools need to make sure that tuck shops run healthy programs and thereby demonstrate to pupils what is important. Let's throw out fizzy drinks and start introducing juices. Let's get rid of fatty foods and start putting in their place greens and vegetables. That cannot be too difficult to do. I do not think we are trying hard enough. Perhaps the education department could look at putting down firmer benchmarks to encourage schools to do something about increasing the standards of their tuck shop programs.

Mr Speaker, I commend the motion. Again, this is a good opportunity to put this issue to the forefront of people's minds. We know we are faced with a quite significant challenge in combating not only just obesity in society generally but certainly childhood obesity.

MS TUCKER (11.04): The connection between health and fitness is a key issue facing affluent, sedentary, high intensity societies such as ours. I think everyone is well aware of the influences which are creating a greater degree of obesity in communities such as ours. These influences are related to the tendency for us to sit down more and do less physical exercise, and to eat the wrong food. Many suggestions have been put forward by interested people in the community about how we can address those issues.

The government has particular campaigns, as do other governments and community organisations. We could look at very extreme ways of trying to deal with this sickness in our society but, of course, governments are not likely to do that, and I would not particularly support such action. But we could see situations where you just ban particular sorts of food which are obviously so dangerous; or they should have health warnings on them and so on, and there has been some talk of that in respect of some of the fast food stores.

If we are going to change people's habits it is important-and research supports this-to take into account the psychological state of people. When you look at how you will empower people to do something about changing their lifestyle so that they will not be fat and therefore not so sick now and in the future, you have to consider their life circumstances. The first point that always comes up is that people have to feel reasonably empowered in their own situation in all senses. For example, eating can be comforting. It is the same as dealing with any kind of addiction. For some people, eating is an addiction and dealing with that is about self-empowerment and self-esteem and supporting them as human beings.

Of course, metabolic factors affect weight, and this is a real issue in our society. The discussion about obesity does not really take into account the fact that the physical appearance of people is related to their metabolism. It is much more difficult for some people to be able to reduce weight. There certainly is an element of judgmentalism in our society. Of course, as members are well aware, the media always promotes not only people who are not fat but people who are so thin that they look undernourished and sick. As a result, body image is a real issue, particularly for young people.

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