TWO health specialists recently appeared on ABC's "Lateline" program on Australian television and called for government regulations, especially on "junk food," to help prevent or reduce excess weight and obesity in Australians.
Professor Rob Moore at the University of Melbourne, who chaired a government health taskforce intended to recommend policy to prevent health problems, said the food industry's voluntary measures have failed to curb diabetes and obesity and urged the government to become involved with mandatory policies to deal with "the junk food industry the same way it confronted the tobacco industry."
Professor Boyd Swinburn at Deakin University said such policies are necessary because of the "obesigenic food environment" food producers have created.
He suggested that the government should limit food marketing to children and pass policies and subsidies that would make healthful foods less expensive.
However, a spokesperson for the Australian Food & Grocery Council countered that childhood obesity rates in Australia already are declining due, in part, to the food industry's voluntary efforts.
Government intervention in food advertising and marketing in other countries simply has not worked, and recommendations for government mandates and policies are "overly simplistic," the spokesperson added.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of trial attorneys in the U.S. who were involved in lawsuits that forced tobacco companies into a $200 billion settlement are indicating that they believe food manufacturers could be dealt with in the same way, according to a note in a "Food & Beverage Litigation Update" published by Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City, Mo.