We know that WA families are trying to stay healthy and well. But the world around us doesn’t make this easy, especially when junk food industries are allowed to market their products to kids, and build their unhealthy outlets anywhere they want.
Cancer Council WA’s Obesity Policy team is advocating for two policy changes with the aim of making it easier for families to stay healthy.
The first is advocating to amend the WA planning laws to include health as a factor in planning. There is nothing in the planning laws allowing Local Governments to make planning decisions based on the health impact on communities, despite the growing number of fast food outlets in many areas.
Two recent examples highlight the need for this change. The first was the approval of a second McDonalds store in Albany. The proposed store is on the corner of Le Grande Avenue and Albany Highway Orana which is less than a kilometre from North Albany Senior High School. Despite opposition from Cancer Council WA and others, the authority considering the application was not able to take into account public health concerns in its deliberations.
More recently, a second McDonalds in Ellenbrook was approved. Cancer Council WA also opposed this application mainly because the proposed development is to be located directly opposite Aveley Secondary College. Despite concerns raised by us and the school, the application was approved.
With canteens in WA leading the nation with our robust Healthy Food and Drink Policy, and roughly half of all WA schools participating in the Crunch&Sip® program, it seems incongruous that a junk food outlet can be allowed to open up directly opposite a school, undermining parent, school and community efforts.
Recent research conducted by the Telethon Kids Institute (commissioned by Cancer Council WA) highlighted that:
74% of outdoor food advertising within 500m of Perth schools is for unhealthy foods. Alarmingly, schools located in disadvantaged areas have a significantly higher proportion of food ads within 250m compared to schools located in more advantaged areas.
Many of these ads appear on government owned property such as buses and bus stops. The Obesity Policy Team is advocating for the removal of junk food ads from government property. Recently all WA MPs were sent a statement from nine of WA’s leading non-government public health agencies, urging the Government to support an immediate ban on the advertising of unhealthy food on State-owned assets. We believe that the WA government has the power to stop selling this ad space to the junk food industry.