Page 53 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 25 February 2014

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Health—childhood obesity

DR BOURKE: My question is to the Minister for Health. Could the minister update the Assembly on the implementation of the government’s commitment to zero growth in obesity and overweight in the ACT community?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Dr Bourke for the question. As members would know, obesity is a major cause of poor health across the ACT community. The 2011-12 ABS health survey showed that 24.6 per cent of ACT children and 63 per cent of ACT adults were overweight or obese. This is an increase on the 2007-08 results of 21 and 58 per cent respectively.

In terms of possible drivers of this problem, the ACT general health survey, over a three-year period to 2010, shows that two in 10 children did one or more hours of physical activity outside of school per day and around 20 per cent were consuming at least six cups of sugary drinks per week.

The ACT government has committed to a range of programs and initiatives to address this upward trend. Many of these initiatives are funded through a partnership between the ACT government and the commonwealth government. The national partnership agreement on preventive health will provide $8.17 million over the years 2010-18 to support the healthy children and workers social marketing initiatives in the ACT. In addition, the ACT health promotion grants program will disperse around $2.1 million per annum, refocused on tackling obesity prevention, particularly in children.

As members would know, we have released the towards zero growth healthy weight action plan. This is a whole-of-government approach to combating overweight and obesity and was welcomed by a number of key stakeholder groups when it was launched, including the Heart Foundation and ACT Medicare Local, both of which were involved in the development of the plan.

Shortly after the launch of towards zero growth, the government was awarded the gold medal for obesity prevention by the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society. This award recognises the ACT as the best performing jurisdiction in relation to obesity prevention activities.

The action plan contains actions to combat obesity grouped into six different focus areas, each of which is the responsibility of a lead agency, and each lead agency has convened an implementation group responsible for enacting and reporting on a plan to undertake actions in their area.

We have already taken steps in the implementation of towards zero growth with new health programs, such as the beat it program, designed for people at risk of developing, or currently living with, diabetes and other chronic conditions. The new bike and ride facility is open at north Weston, and last week we made significant announcements around healthy choices for food and drink in ACT schools.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

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