The City Councilor of the City of Melbourne, Dr. Olivia Ball says a key takeaway from her attendance at a health summit in London is the important role urban planning can play in feeding children.
cr dr Ball said that London’s 2019 ban on opening new fast-food outlets within 400 metres, or a five-minute walk, of all primary and secondary schools had “a demonstrable impact”.
“Students who attend schools that are within walking distance of a fast food joint drink more sugary drinks, eat fewer fruits and vegetables, and are at higher risk of being overweight,” she said.
cr dr Ball also noted that in 2019, to combat childhood obesity, Transport for London (the government agency responsible for London’s transport network) also banned the advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks based on fat, sugar and salt on its transport network has content as well as gambling, breast milk substitutes and tobacco.
cr dr Ball made the comments as part of her post-travel report during her address at a Future Melbourne Committee meeting on May 16, after representing the council at the Partnership for Healthy Cities (PHC) summit in London March 14-16. She concluded addresses executives from 70 countries.
The summit discussed strategies to tackle the global burden of noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, as well as injuries, which are responsible for 80 percent of all deaths worldwide.
Lessons from the Summit will feed into the City of Melbourne’s policies and strategic commitments, including its Food City: The City of Melbourne’s Nutrition Policy, the Melbourne Smoke-Free Policy and the City’s Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2021-25.
cr dr Ball said the link between urban planning and public health was a “big takeaway” from the summit but made no indication it would be considered as part of the council’s future health policy.
However, she noted, “We need to make healthy choices easier and more engaging, whether it’s about what we eat or how active we are.”
“While we think of health primarily as a function of the state, there is a large amount of preventive action in the area of public health and NCD prevention at the local government level,” she said.
Of course, we provide direct services, such as our child immunization program and maternal and child health, and ensure the restaurants you eat at meet the necessary food safety standards, as well as other forms of enforcement to help contain the spread tobacco use.
PHC covered Cr Dr Ball’s flight and lodging expenses, with the local council contributing $68.92 in incidental expenses.
cr dr Ball also traveled to Adelaide May 1-4 to attend the 2023 Preventive Health Conference and pre-conference workshop. The cost of the council was $2723. Conference topics included vaping and smoking cessation, obesity prevention, maternal and child health and nutrition.
Meanwhile, Cr Kevin Louey traveled to Manila, Philippines to attend the Business Partner Cities Network Roundtable March 15-18.
The fare payer-sponsored trip cost US$7,569, which included US$5,834 for airfare and US$1,539 for lodging.
Cr Louey joined leaders from 15 cities to explore opportunities to “empower innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems” in the post-COVID economic climate. He also conducted meetings with Manila-based organizations involved in innovation, startup and investment.
“The meetings showed that there are clear opportunities for Melbourne in the fields of media and tourism technology, agtech, game development and medical technology that need to be considered further,” said a report after the trip. •