National policies to prevent obesity in early childhood: Using policy mapping to compare policy lessons for Australia with six developed countries

Emma Esdaile’s  first PhD paper is published in Obesity Reviews,

Brief about the paper: I used the WHO Ending Childhood Obesity Report to compare Australia’s national obesity policies with England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Canada and New Zealand. The research focused on policy areas for the prevention of obesity in the early years (first five years of life) in the healthcare system (downstream), settings and support for parents (midstream), as well as consideration of the food and physical activity environments in which parents make choices for the growth and development of their young children (upstream).

Key takeaways from this publication are:

  • There are multiple opportunities for Australia to improve its action to prevent obesity in the early years
  • The National Quality Framework for the Early Childhood Education and Care has a lot of room to grow, particularly around supporting services
  • While countries were more likely to have downstream or midstream policies, upstream policies were more likely when countries had invested in system?wide approaches to obesity such as developing a national obesity strategy, having separate food/nutrition and physical activity plans, and a dedicated preventive health agency.
  • Australia should prioritise the development of a national food/nutrition strategy

These findings are especially useful in light of the recent release of the Long Term National Health Plan for Australia by Federal Health Minister, Hon Greg Hunt. In this 24-page document, there is no mention of the food system/nutrition despite a page for ‘Sport and physical activity for health’.

I actively encourage you to share these findings with your networks and on social media – my Twitter handle is @Emma_Esdaile

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