Healthy Weight Week is due to kick off on Sunday. But Professor Mike Daube, Director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Curtin University, wonders whose interests are really being served by this initiative.

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What have Coco Pops and Froot Loops got to do with healthy weight?

Mike Daube writes:

National Healthy Weight Week runs from January 22 – 29.  A worthy objective, but beyond a few platitudes what is it really promoting?

According to the website, Australian Healthy Weight Week is run by the Dietitians Association of Australia and sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia.

The DAA media release for Australian Healthy Weight Week urges people planning to lose weight “to consider seeing an Accredited Practicing Dietitian as a first (rather than a last) resort” – which perhaps entails a touch of self-interest.

The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) also boasts a wide range of corporate partners including: Dairy Australia, Fonterra, Kelloggs, Meat and Livestock Australia, Unilever Australia, Nestle Australia and the Egg Nutrition Council.  All no doubt sell products that make important contributions to humanity; but also others of more doubtful value such as Allens confectionery, Kit Kat, Milky Bar, Chokito, Rolo, Smarties, Violet Crumble, Frosties, Coco Pops and Froot Loops.

Seeking a national healthy weight is a worthy objective, but the DAA would have more credibility if it dropped some of its associations with commercial sponsors, and perhaps even played a more active role in criticising some of their promotional activities.

• PS from Croakey: The Croakey Register of Influencers in Public Health covers some related issues.

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