Cutting sugar intake
Men work at a sugar cane plantation during harvest time at the Monteli REUTERS

To check the obesity rate among several age groups in Australia, tax could be imposed on sugar. This will also point to several food items that contribute to obesity, similar to that of tobacco.

Boyd Swinburn, professor of population nutrition and global health at the University of Auckland as well as director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, said in a report on obesity that Australian adults are the most overweight people in the world. But the nation’s kids are sitting below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, average for obesity.

Currently, the focus in prevention will be on kids, but also warned that it will be a "long time before that generation of skinnier kids comes through the system." Boyd further pointed that Australia also needs more compulsory, data collection on the weight of its children from school, said a report of

"There is no single country that has managed to turn this around," he said while addressing a health forum in Canberra to report on the progress of the nation’s fight against obesity.

Key measures such as restricting junk food marketing to children, fiscal policies such as a tax on sugar, change in health-labeling systems and healthy food policies in all places where the government had authority, such as public schools as well as hospitals; might help children to reduce obesity. He feels that a strong leadership is required to tackle the problem. Another element to counter obesity is to bring change in several areas in all government departments like transport, agriculture, education and urban planning.

However, the response from the food industry to the obesity epidemic had been "stereotypic" as well as identical to that of the tobacco industry before. "First they'll deny it, and then they'll fight it, and then they'll obscure it, and then they'll buy the scientists and get the evidence, and then they'll put up front groups to pretend there's a community movement against it, and they'll lobby politicians. It's a standard set of tactics that the tobacco industry in Australia does, and we've just analysed it with the food industry. They're doing it exactly the same, in fact they're doing it better," he said. But according to the report, lobbyists in food industry said that sugar taxes will not work.

Even though majority of people are supporting the restriction of junk food marketing and a tax on sugar, Boyd feels that people should be more vocal about their support for the obesity prevention measures.