National policies to prevent obesity in early childhood: using policy mapping to compare policy lessons for Australia with six developed countries
journal contributionposted on 2019-11-01, 00:00 authored by E Esdaile, A M Thow, T Gill, Gary SacksGary Sacks, R Golley, Penny LovePenny Love, L M Wen, C Rissel
Interventions for obesity prevention in early childhood (first 5 years of life) are likely to have a significant preventive health impact. This mapping review identified recommended policy options for the Australian Federal Government (AFG) by comparing countries with similar population, income, and language to Australia. Policies were mapped in six countries using two matrices. The first matrix examined policy context, describing obesity prevention governance. The second matrix examined policy content, compared with global recommendations. Policies were grouped into downstream (healthcare), midstream (lifestyle and settings), and upstream (determinants of health, including food and built environments). Results identified variance in obesity governance across the six countries including policy coherence, leadership, institutional drivers, and overlapping responsibility across different levels of government. While countries tended to have more downstream or midstream policies, upstream policies were more likely when countries had invested in system-wide approaches to obesity such as developing a national obesity strategy, having separate food/nutrition and physical activity plans, and a dedicated preventive health agency. This study recommends a range of initiatives for the AFG to strengthen policies for the prevention of obesity in early childhood, including prioritising the development of a national food/nutrition strategy.