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The Obesity Collective: new joint initiative to tackle the crisis

31 July 2018
Collective Plan for Action revealed at Obesity Australia Summit
University of Sydney partners with a coalition of researchers, health professionals, government and private sector representatives, campaigners, non-profits and consumers to transform the way we think and act on obesity.

The Collective for Action on Obesity was launched today at the 2018 Obesity Australia Summit, held at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.

A growing group of committed individuals and organisations, the Collective will work collaboratively to support a new, cross-sector framework for addressing the obesity epidemic based on collaboration and shared responsibility.

The Collective Plan for Action aims to raise awareness, change the narrative from a focus on personal responsibility to collective responsibility, map activity and gaps across the system, provide a source of truth on the current evidence, create a platform to better collaborate and support new players in society to contribute.

Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and Executive Director of Obesity Australia, said the idea for the Collective followed the release of the Weighing the Costs of Obesity report prepared by PwC Australia for Obesity Australia in late 2015 and has emerged from a series of roundtable discussions and structured workshops facilitated by PwC’s The Impact Assembly.

“Two thirds of the adult population and a quarter of Australian children are classified as overweight or obese, placing us near the top of the global ranking,” Professor Simpson said.

“Overweight and obesity are a normal response to the modern environment: they are easy to acquire, but our biology makes it hard to escape without help.

“The clear message from across sectors is that the time has come to transform our response to the obesity epidemic – both its prevention and treatment.

“Solutions don’t just lie with government, or with individuals."

We intend for the Collective to become a whole-of-society movement for change. We must transform the way society thinks, speaks and acts on obesity to reduce the impact it has on us all.
Professor Stephen Simpson

The Collective for Action on Obesity already includes members from the private sector, community groups, academia, non-profit organisations, healthcare, and across all levels of government – as well as high-profile campaigners for social justice issues and people with lived experience of obesity.

“We present a unified voice with aligned commitments and connected efforts, to create the momentum, pressure and opportunity required to drive change in the prevention and treatment of obesity,” Professor Simpson said.

“The Collective is about different sectors of society supporting one another, sharing responsibility and making the most of its collective strengths while respecting individual differences.

“Our focus is on reframing the issue of obesity so that the community understands more fully that reversing the epidemic, particularly among children, is imperative for the collective physical, social and economic health of Australia.

“Our approach will reduce the burden of disease and associated costs, reduce stigma, increase equity, ensure more efficient use of resources and increase collaboration and innovation.”

Work by co-founding member of the Collective, PwC, has established the economic impacts of obesity in Australia will reach $87.7 billion and affect one-third of Australians by 2025 without further intervention.

“Addressing this challenge is vital to the health of our country,” Marty Jovic, PwC Partner, Health Economics & Policy, said.

“We own this challenge together as a society, and PwC’s contribution has been through supporting the development of the Collective.”

We look forward to continuing our support and we believe connecting and aligning our commitments will turbo charge our ability to drive real and lasting change.
Marty Jovic, PwC Partner, Health Economics & Policy

During the Summit, current members of the Collective and other parties pledged their support for the Collective Plan for Action and the form their contribution would take.

Among the pledgers were chef and businessman Neil Perry, and representatives from PwC, the YMCA, Indigenous Allied Health Australia, the Australian Prevention Partnership Centre, Nepean Blue Mountains Family Metabolic Health Service, Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network, NAB, NSW Ministry of Health, AMGEN, Parents Voice, Australian New Zealand Obesity Society, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Sydney Local Health District, NSW Office of Sport, Bupa Health Foundation and Novo Nordisk.

Commitments include significant funding for specific projects; ongoing financial, administrative and advisory support for the Collective; and work to transform the Collective’s aims into a high-impact public campaign.

“I thank everyone involved in the establishment of the Collective for Action on Obesity and the pledges made today and look forward to building the Collective and working collaboratively on our ambitious and bold plan to end Australia’s obesity crisis,” Professor Simpson said.

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