The Assessing Cost-Effectiveness of Obesity Prevention Policies (ACE-Obesity Policy) in Australia study team within Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation is the 2019 winner of the Council of Academic Public Health Institutions in Australia Award for Excellence and Innovation in Public Health Team Research.

The CAPHIA Awards showcase excellent public health teaching and research throughout Australasia and honour the researchers and educators behind improvements in Australians’ health, especially the ways in which they develop innovative methods to educate the next generation of health professionals and work with government and other partners to improve healthcare delivery.

The Deakin team was awarded for its work on the most comprehensive analysis to date of Australia’s policy arsenal in the fight against obesity. Experts from Deakin Health Economics and the Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) within the Institute for Health Transformation, in collaboration with researchers from the the University of Queensland and The George Institute for Global Health, evaluated the economic credentials of a range of policies to discern the most cost-effective, affordable and implementable options.

Completed as part of Deakin’s first National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence grant in Obesity Policy and Food Systems, the study found all of the 16 interventions assessed – many backed by leading public health groups – offered good value for money. It ranked a uniform volumetric tax on alcohol as the most cost-effective policy for obesity prevention in Australia, followed by a tax on sugary drinks, and a ban on junk food advertising to children.

Lead author Senior Research Fellow Jaithri Ananthapavan, from Deakin Health Economics, thanked CAPHIA for recognising the achievements of the ACE-Obesity Policy team.

“Assessing both the costs and the benefits of policies is crucial to ensure limited budgets are used in the most efficient manner,” she said.

“We hope our findings can be used to guide the development of the National Obesity Strategy.”