Director’s update

This Friday, along with many others sharing concerns about the growing problem of obesity and its complications, I will be attending the National Obesity Summit in Canberra initiated by Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation.

The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre collaborators will be well represented from across our different interests and I will be giving a short presentation on obesity and chronic disease.

It is easy to dismiss such initiatives as yet more talking. As someone who spends a fair bit of time in Canberra, I have developed a different perspective on this. Ministers and parliamentarians are continually being lobbied by different interest groups including many that have not been helpful in achieving a comprehensive and substantial response to controlling obesity. More than that, it also means we are competing for political considerations with many other issues. Most interest groups that can afford it think nothing of presenting their case repeatedly in Canberra and would leap at any opportunity to be at a forum with ministerial endorsement to air their concerns and desired responses.

Achieving action in this environment requires one to be willing to continue to air the issues, concerns and solutions. If the obesity epidemic could be overcome with one decision that the majority of politicians and the community would agree to then it wouldn’t be the complex and wicked problem we know it to be! So, we will need to restate the enormous ill-health burden and enormous health care costs that are associated directly and indirectly with obesity, to present the evidence of what works, correcting the misinformation and why we need multi-stranded strategy again and again.

Overcoming nihilism that nothing works and creating opportunities for action is critical.