Queensland believe they are leading the way when it comes to health. On Friday they announced a ban on all sugary drinks and unhealthy food at public hospitals and health centres. The state says they are leading the way in Australia when it comes to nutritional initiatives.
Not surprisingly, the Australian Beverages Council says the ban is an insult on people’s intelligence. The idea of a sugar tax isn’t a new concept. There is strong support for a tax in an effort to make healthy options more attractive.
But to ban products from an area is an interesting concept. The Australian Beverages Council is quite right. Humans aren’t stupid. We know eating chocolate isn’t the healthiest option or that the can of soft drink is laced with sugar.
We also know that smoking kills you. Literally can end your life. Yet people continue to consume cigarettes.
Vending machines are also used as a distraction for children or even adults – particularly in hospitals where stress is high and time is drawn out. One person told The Examiner they witnessed a mother buy a can of soft drink and place the contents in her child’s bottle while waiting in Launceston’s emergency department.
The health department has a message to send. Obesity has a major impact on the health budget through medical conditions linked to an unhealthy lifestyle. A ban in the very places trying to improve the habits and health of their clients can make sense.
Reducing the levels of obesity is more than just a ban in hospitals. Success would require a multi-pronged approach in terms of education, physical exercise as well as a focus on the availability of unhealthy snack choices.
An easy option – which wouldn’t impact on an individual’s intelligence – is to offer more healthy options and reduce the amount of unhealthy choices. Perhaps even make the healthy options cheaper, therefore more enticing.
If we don’t start improving our habits there will come a time where drastic change will be necessary to relieve the future strain on our health system due to lifestyle choices.