Background - In 2002 the World Health Organization adopted the Global Strategy on Action for Diet, Physical Activity and Health. The European Region of the WHO has been very active in the development of national policy approaches to reflect the Global Strategy. Achievements against the goals of the First Action Plan for Food and Nutrition Policy for the WHO European Region, 2000-2005 have been assessed, and the Second Action Plan will be considered for adoption in September 2007. Strategic priorities have been set out and include food safety, nutrition and sustainable food supply, thus linking lifestyle (eating habits) with both human and environmental health costs. In Australia, action to implement the Global Strategy has been less systematic.
Objective - Assess the food and nutrition policy and program actions of Australian national, state and local level governments against the Global Strategy, using principles consistent with the New Nutrition Science and the framework adopted by the European Region.
Design - Document analysis of key Australian food and nutrition policies and surveys of key government departments, agencies and committees.
Outcomes - At the national level, clearly progress has been achieved in some areas (specific strategies to address childhood obesity), but far less progress is evident in other areas, (consistency between nutrition, food safety and agricultural policies or fiscal policies). Some state level policies are more reflective of the Global Strategy principles, for example Tasmania, but little is reported on their achievements against policy objectives. At the local level, integrated food and nutrition actions have generally been wound back, with local governments in most states reporting less activity in 2007 than they did in 1995, with the exception of Victoria where specific support has been provided to advance local food and nutrition initiatives.
Conclusions - Australian governments have not been held accountable for progress toward public health nutrition goals and actions. Without such public and professional accountability, opportunities to progress public health nutrition agendas may be lost. Recommendations are made on strategies for nutrition professional engagement in food and nutrition policy actions, and implications for professional training and related issues.