The Towards Zero Growth Healthy Weight Action Plan outlines four actions to improve food environments within the ACT (see below). In the early stages of the Healthy Weight Initiative, efforts have been focussed on working with stakeholders to develop and implement voluntary approaches to support these actions and improve our food environment. Over time, if the voluntary approaches do not show signs of improving the health and wellbeing of the ACT population, the ACT Government may consider other approaches.
1. Restrict the advertising of unhealthy foods within the government's regulatory control.
Australian experience suggests state or territory-based regulation of television advertising is problematic, however the ACT Government will examine its regulatory control across advertising mediums. There is a particular need to address marketing directed at children in close proximity to schools, playgrounds and child care centres.
2. Improve the availability of free drinking water in public places and food outlets.
Easy access to free drinking water can reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and have a direct impact on obesity and overweight. The ACT Government is already increasing the number of public water fountains and will work with local businesses to further increase the availability of free water.
3. Enact a mandatory code for supermarkets to require at least one checkout aisle be identified as free of energy dense, nutrient poor (EDNP) foods.
Reducing the visibility of energy dense nutrient poor foods in checkout aisles reduces the likelihood of impulse buying at the point of sale. The same factors mean that greater visibility of healthy foods in checkout areas will encourage more purchases of these foods. The ACT will seek to work with retailers at the local level and will advocate nationally for broader implementation.
4. Regulate the sale of sugar-sweetened drinks.
Given their high levels of sugar and 'empty kilojoules', combined with high rates of consumption, sugar-sweetened beverages are a major factor in obesity rates. Exploring options for regulation will include consultation with industry stakeholders and through national forums and campaigns.
Projects and initiatives within the food environment