A top Melbourne academic has claimed that fat people alone cannot be held responsible for being overweight and has blamed junk food companies for increasing obesity rates.
Speaking at the annual Castan Centre for Human Rights Law Conference in Melbourne, Dr Samantha Thomas said the war on obesity was failing because society put too much emphasis on personal responsibility.
"Obesity rates are still increasing because we put all the responsibility on the individual, but are completely reluctant to tackle the corporations that are part of the cause - the junk food companies, the soft drink companies, even the town planners who design new suburbs with no backyards or playgrounds," News.com.au quoted Dr Thomas as saying.
Dr Thomas, a senior research fellow at the Monash University School of Marketing, said more should be done to prevent obesity, rather than simply telling people to lose weight.
"It is easy to say 'I do the right thing, why don't they?', but for some people, for a variety of reasons, it is very hard to make the right decisions. We really need to create a healthy environment to help people do that," she said.
Dr Thomas said the anti-obesity fight should be similar to the war on smoking, with big tobacco companies blamed rather than individuals labelled weak or lazy.
"With the anti-smoking movement, we realised that tobacco was being heavily marketed at adolescents and we were disgusted. Junk food is heavily marketed at children and adolescents but, instead of trying to stop that, we just put all the responsibility on parents," she said.