Is the junk food answer plain?

EATING HEALTHILY: Sarah Hort of Sydney, Peace Courage holding Ashanti, 1 and Peace’s partner Oliver Hort, all of Uki.
EATING HEALTHILY: Sarah Hort of Sydney, Peace Courage holding Ashanti, 1 and Peace’s partner Oliver Hort, all of Uki. Patrick Gorbunovs

IT WAS introduced to cigarette packets last year, but could plain packaging also be the answer for junk food?

Plain packaging as an attempt to combat Australia's obesity epidemic is back on the agenda after food industry professionals debated the weighty issue on Tuesday at the Australian Institute of Food Science Technology Convention in Brisbane.

While the panel concluded a move to plain packaging would be ineffective, one family from Uki would welcome the change.

Eating healthily is a big priority for Oliver Hort and his young family.

Mr Hort said while he thought a move to plain packaging would not combat obesity entirely, it would be a good start.

"Anything to get people's attention away from the lure of junk food is a good thing," Mr Hort said. "I'd like my girls to be able to make healthy choices in the future."

Mr Hort said cartoon advertising on junk food made it harder for children to resist unhealthy snacks.

"When The Wiggles are printed on something, it makes children want it more," he said.

Mr Hort said he thought there was no quick fix to combating childhood obesity, but said par- ents had a big role to play in preventing it.

He said encouraging children to exercise, eat whole foods and reduce time spent using electronic devices were responsibilities of every parent.

A spokeswoman from NSW Ministry of Health agreed with Mr Hort, saying there was no "magic bullet" when it came to addressing obesity in Australia.

"Energy balance is the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight," she said.

"It's about choosing healthy foods as well as being more active."

The NSW Government introduced the Fast Choices legislation in 2012 which allows consumers to view the kilojoule count of fast foods at all major outlets.

The Federal Government also plans to introduce a new health- star-rating labelling system in the next 12 months, where foods with more stars printed on the packaging will indicate a "better choice".

There had been no legislative action supporting a move to introduce plain packaging of junk food at the time of writing.

Healthy tips

Drink plenty of water.

Try to exercise daily.

Sleep for 8 hours at night.

Eat the recommended serves of fruit and vegies.

Eat only low levels of fat and sugars.

Eat whole grains.

Laugh often.

Topics:  eating junk plain packaging

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