Obesity: is the food industry part of the problem or the solution?

9 October 2009

A public lecture entitled Obesity: is the food industry more part of the problem than part of the solution? will take place at the University of Sydney as part of the 'Controversies in Public Health' lecture series run by the School of Public Health, on Monday 12 October.

The speakers will investigate the role of supermarkets in the obesity epidemic, and the role of science in finding a solution. The speakers are:

Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM

In the 1960s, Australians could access 600-800 foods, many only available seasonally. The average supermarket now stocks around 30,000 food items, including almost 2,000 different snack foods. Our modern food supply is undoubtedly plentiful, microbiologically safe, cheap and convenient, but has choice gone mad? Do we really need to use fragile resources or make food available every hour of every day? No one suggests that the modern food supply is solely responsible for excess weight, but neither could anyone deny that it is a major factor in creating a society where the majority of adults and a quarter of our children are now overweight or obese. We have two major problems that need urgent attention: overconsumption of food and overuse of the world's increasingly scarce energy and water resources. The food industry is involved in both. Can we leave this diverse industry to solve these problems or is it time for governments to step in?

Dr Derek Yach, Director - Global Health Policy, PepsiCo

Food companies have contributed to the development of a food system that now provides adequate and safe food to billions of people worldwide. Nutrition crises related to over and under nutrition however remain common. This presentation will outline the role food companies are increasingly playing in contributing solutions to both sets of problems. Emphasis will be given to the role of science, multistakeholder approaches and government incentives as major means of accelerating progress. The importance of tackling high levels of mutual distrust between the private and public sectors will be stressed and practical ways of working together without compromising any sides autonomy proposed.

Venue: Eastern Avenue Complex, The University of Sydney, Camperdown (Map reference K5)

Time: 5:30-6:00pm Refreshments, 6:00-7:00pm Lecture

Contact: Jacob O'Shaughnessy

Phone: +61 2 9351 4312 or 0421 617 861