The Healthy Food Partnership – to have its inaugural meeting in Canberra today – has the potential to save thousands of lives by improving the health of Australia’s food supply, Heart Foundation spokesman, Rohan Greenland, said today.
The Healthy Food Partnership – convened by Rural Health Minister, Sen. Fiona Nash, who is also responsible for food policy – will focus on food reformulation, portion size and promoting healthy eating.
“The Heart Foundation warmly congratulates the Minister on this initiative as it aims to address the top two risk factors for disease in this country – poor diet and high body mass[i],” said Mr Greenland.
“The new initiative should build on the work of the previous food reformulation program, the Food and Health Dialogue, which itself was modelled on the UK’s pioneering program to improve the food supply, initiated in 2003.
“That work has seen a dramatic 30% reduction in the amount of salt added to the food sold in the UK, with a predicted saving of almost 9,000 lives a year from heart attacks and strokes.
“A similar improvement in population health should be achievable in Australia, given the fact that we are eating on average around 50% more salt than the guidelines recommend.
“The Heart Foundation has long championed the need for government-led healthy food programs to improve the health of the food supply by working with industry to secure commitments and actions to reduce added salt, sugar, saturated fat and calories across food categories, and to add more fruit, vegetable and fiber content.
“It’s all about working together to improve recipes of processed food.
“The work ahead will be hard and challenging. It will require a spirit of cooperation between industry, health groups and Government.
“But, if successful, the rewards will be high with fewer heat attacks, fewer strokes, fewer cases of diabetes and some cancers.
“We also have a good precedence in the work of the project committee that saw Governments, health groups, and industry work together to develop the Health Star Rating front-of-pack labeling system.”
The Heart Foundation is pleased to be a contributing member of the Healthy Food Partnership that also includes Public Health Association, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, Coles, Woolworths, Metcash (owner of IGA); the Dietitians Association of Australia, AusVeg, Dairy Australia, and Meat and Livestock Australia.