Bye bye to Obesity Action Coalition

The Herald reports:

The Government has lopped another limb off Labour’s “bureaucratic” public health tree, ending state funding for the Obesity Action Coalition.

This is excellent news. Labour often funded groups which then in turn lobbied Parliament and the Government on social issues – despite this being something the Auditor-General had warned against.

When we talk about state funding of political parties, we should also look at state funding of lobby groups.

The Herald does a summary:

Gone or going:

* Funding of Obesity Action Coalition.
* District health board staff who help schools with nutrition policy.
* Rule that only healthy food and drink be sold at schools.
* Labour’s plans to control food industry recipes.

Staying or coming:

* Promotion of healthy food at schools.
* New physical activity scheme for schools.

Excellent. Far too much time is spent trying to ban food or food advertising, and not enough promoting exercise.

Anyway let us look at what the Obesity Action Coalition has been doing.

On its website it is promoting and linking to the Greens petition to being ban the tuckshop food police. So the Government has been funding a lobby group to argue against Government policy. I repeat lobby groups should not be state funded.

And they have many reports. Take this report on Pacific Island obesity.  One of their recommendations is:

Banning access to and advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar

Banning advertising is bad enough, but banning access to certain foods!!!

And look at this press release on how public policy should be set:

OAC Executive Director Leigh Sturgiss told the committee the public health workforce uses a tool called the “scream test”. “The likely success of a proposed measure is gauged by the degree to which the affected industries protest. If there is no “scream”, chances are the proposed measure will be ineffective. The tobacco industry and its allies used to scream a lot, and now the fast food industry and its allies are screaming as well,” Ms Sturgiss said.

So their aim is to make affected industries scream loudly. So much for weighing up costs and benefits.

If the public health workforce really do use a “scream test” then I think the Government should use a “scream test” on the public health workforce. This is a good start.

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