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Experts warn Australia is losing war against alcohol, obesity

Australia is losing the war against alcohol and weight-related illnesses, public health experts have warned.

They said Australia lacks a comprehensive approach to prevention.

A report in the Medical Journal of Australia, (MJA) by experts from the University of Melbourne, Victoria University’s Australian Health Policy Collaboration and the Obesity Policy Coalition, said investment in life-saving health promotion programs in Australia lags well behind that of many Western countries.

The authors said effective prevention could improve health and reduce pressure on clinical services. "Australia has had some outstanding successes in areas such as smoking, road trauma and heart disease," they wrote. "However, we lack a sustained, comprehensive and strategic approach to prevention, together with adequate funding, co-ordination and monitoring."

University of Melbourne professor Rob Moodie said that, with the exception of tobacco control, there is little or no progress being made in preventing and controlling risk factors for chronic diseases in Australia. "In particular, Australia is falling behind in healthy eating, healthy weight and managing alcohol harm," Moodie said. "Australia is doing very well with tobacco because we have good bipartisan political support but we are virtually getting nowhere with poor diet and obesity."

Nursing Review spoke with Moodie about the MJA article and what Australia should do to improve prevention strategies for non-communicable disease.

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