Technical Paper 1:
Obesity in Australia: a need for urgent action
Interventions to counter obesity are premised on the need for simultaneous action at the structural environment – through legislation and regulation – and at the local community and individual level. The notion of a ‘settings’ approach becomes particularly important. The ‘setting’ has long been seen as a way of reaching a captive audience, providing entry points and access to specific populations as well as channels for delivering health promotion programmes. Settings are also understood as ‘creating supportive environments’ to ‘make healthy choices easy choices’. A setting is a context – and a complex set of relationships and structures – within which people live, work, trade and socialise. Consequently, settings may also exert direct and indirect effects on health, and acting on community-level influences may need to parallel interventions with individuals.[166-168]
For these reasons, it will be important to undertake a combination of interventions in schools and workplaces, as well as in local government areas to make local environments healthy and active. Local governments are in a position to shape the local natural and built environment and integrate efforts in different sectors. The linking of the work within these settings at the local level may particularly benefit disadvantaged communities.