Deakin health economists launched the most comprehensive analysis to date of Australia’s policy arsenal in the fight against obesity, evaluating the economic credentials of a range of policies to discern the most cost-effective, affordable and implementable options.
Completed as part of the University’s first National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence grant in Obesity Policy and Food Systems, Assessing Cost-Effectiveness of Obesity Prevention Policies in Australia (ACE-Obesity Policy) found all of the 16 interventions assessed – many backed by leading public health groups – offered good value for money.
The report 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.
Research has previously shown a uniform tax on alcoholic drinks could have a positive impact on wider health issues, including injury prevention, the justice system and road accidents.
However, this is the first economic modelling to show such a tax could also have a significant positive effect on population weight.
The report looks at other important factors, such as ensuring policies don’t unfairly harm vulnerable population groups, the strength of evidence for an intervention, its acceptability by the public, the feasibility of implementing it, and its long-term sustainability.
The interventions assessed were spread across a range of settings and sectors and included program-based policies as well as regulations, allowing governments to prioritise implementation according to their policy preferences.
“If the government wants to make obesity prevention a key health priority, this report provides a great road map towards that goal. These interventions are spread across a range of settings and sectors and include program-based polices as well as regulations, allowing governments to prioritise implementation according to their policy preferences.”
Senior Research Fellow Jaithri Ananthapavan