Professor Paul Zimmet, Professor of Diabetes at Monash University and Professor Ian Caterson, Head of Human Nutrition and Professor of Medicine at Sydney University, attacked criticism by AMA President Dr Mukesh Haikerwal and Federal Opposition health spokesperson Julia Gillard, labelling it as 'misguided'.
"It is sad that this very worthwhile initiative has become a target for cheap political shots," the Professors said.
"We welcome the government's lead on this issue and reject criticism that this important initiative is too little too late.
"This study is critical because we need to know where we started in order to know where we are going. Baseline data is necessary so we can monitor future developments. This will give us a snapshot of the Australian population, particularly two to five year old children" they said.
"The obesity epidemic in children has reached crisis point. If the government is going to be able to assess the success of current and future interventions addressing the issue, it urgently needs to have a baseline measurement to plan an effective prevention strategy."
"The Minister is to be congratulated for identifying this need and making the necessary investment in the research to take us forward."
Profs Caterson and Zimmet will Chair the 10th International Obesity Congress (ICO 2006) to be held in Sydney, 3 – 8 September 2006 and Mr Abbott will deliver the opening address. The ICO is expected to attract more than 3000 delegates and will feature groundbreaking research on obesity.
Prof Caterson said, "It is of great significance that Australia has been chosen to host this Congress, which will provide a platform for experts from all over the world to present important new evidence on all areas relating to obesity,"
"The Australian government has made a major commitment to tackle this problem and Mr Abbott's initiative is certain to be widely acclaimed by experts world wide.
Professor Zimmet said, "There are significant gaps in what we know about obesity in Australia. "Experts agree that if parents want to see change in their children's eating and exercise habits, this baseline data is critical to ensure effective change occurs.
"This data is crucial to shape federal state and local government policy initiatives, as well as parental education to address the epidemic," Prof Zimmet concluded.
Prof Paul Zimmet
Professor of Diabetes at Monash University
+61 418 359 151
Prof Ian Caterson
Head of Human Nutrition and Professor of Medicine at Sydney University
+61 2 9351 5010
Health Communications Australia
+61 2 9818 4377
For further information about the International Congress on Obesity 2006 please visit: www.ico2006.com
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