Obesity Policy Coalition updates name to Food for Health Alliance

28 Apr 2023

Obesity Policy Coalition, a leading policy and advocacy voice working to improve Australia’s food environments, announced today that it has updated its name to Food for Health Alliance, effective immediately.

Food for Health Alliance (FHA) is a partnership between Cancer Council Victoria, VicHealth and the Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition at Deakin University.

According to Jane Martin, Executive Manager of Food for Health Alliance, the new name better reflects the organisation’s driving impetus to improve diets and prevent overweight and obesity in Australia.

“We want to make it easier for all Australians to live healthier, happier lives by improving our nation’s food environment to support health and wellbeing,” Ms Martin said.

“Our new name, updated website and social media, brings together a simple, bold and powerful representation of ‘healthy food’ and ‘public advocacy’. 

“It highlights our mission to drive changes to laws and policies to improve the way our food is made, labelled, sold and advertised. Improving our food environments will help to reduce risks from unhealthy diets and being above a healthy weight, which are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer in adulthood.

“We believe through leading an alliance of public health bodies, we strengthen and amplify our voice to governments to help drive policy changes that boost efforts to improve diets and reduce overweight and obesity.” 

Food for Health Alliance will continue to advocate for evidence-based policies to support healthy food environments by working closely with government, academia, public health organisations and the community to achieve positive change. 

“Our current policy and advocacy priorities focus on protecting children from unhealthy food marketing, improving the nutritional value of foods marketed to babies and toddlers, clearer food labelling and influencing pricing measures, like a health levy on manufacturers of sugary drinks,” Ms Martin said.

“For too long, the processed food industry has put their profits ahead of our health. 

“We urgently need governments to set higher standards to protect our children’s health. It is unacceptable for processed food companies to target children with their unhealthy products. It impacts what they eat, what they ask for and shapes their taste preferences as they grow.” 

While a clear pathway towards improving health measures has been laid out in the National Obesity Strategy, Ms Martin said little progress been made since the strategy was released over a year ago.

“It’s disappointing to see how little has been achieved. We urgently need these measures implemented and funded adequately if Australia wants to avoid a growing health crisis over the next decade. We can no longer afford to wait.

“Under the new Food for Health Alliance banner, we’re excited to continue our work to build collective support for change to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians.”

VicHealth CEO, Dr Sandro Demaio welcomed Food for Health Alliance’s renewed focus on creating healthier food environments, to push for stronger policies and make it easier to buy healthier foods.

“Working as a collective voice, we can push for stronger policies to make it easier to access and enjoy healthier foods in all corners of the country,” Dr Demaio said.

“We support Food for Health Alliance’s policy, research and advocacy work and its positive contribution to the national conversation.”

Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation Director, Professor Anna Peeters congratulated Food for Health Alliance and added that comprehensive action is needed to improve populations diets and address obesity.

“Despite government delivering a National Obesity Strategy, Australia continues to fall behind, ranking fifth among OECD countries for rates of obesity,” Professor Peeters said.

“Our Food Policy Index found there has been limited policy progress in Australia over the last five years, with little action, if any to address standards around food promotions.

“Healthier food environments are critical to our future wellbeing. We support Food for Health Alliance’s efforts to lead a coordinated public health approach to government at all levels.”

For more information about Food for Health Alliance’s advocacy, please visit foodforhealthalliance.org.au or follow us on Facebook at Food for Health Alliance or Twitter @FHAllianceAU