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Funding Required to Combat Obesity

Funding Required to Combat Obesity

The Obesity Action Coalition strongly encourages the government to urgently commit funding to improve the diet and physical activity levels of New Zealanders.

“Nutrition and the Burden of Disease”, a Ministry of Health report released today, identifies excess body fat as one of the most important modifiable risk factors for a number of serious illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and stroke. The report says around 11,000 deaths per year are attributable to poor diet and physical inactivity. Better diet and increased physical activity could reduce this number of deaths.

“There are already policy documents written to help address the problem. The Food and Nutrition Guidelines for New Zealanders and Healthy Eating Healthy Action have information and strategies to begin dealing with obesity but what is urgently needed is money to implement them. We can’t afford to wait around and see what happens – the problem of obesity is not going to get better. The report says most experts expect the obesity epidemic to become worse. There must be money available to take action right now.” says Celia Murphy, Executive Director of the Obesity Action Coalition.

She says “The government also needs to look at making our environment an easier place to maintain a healthy weight. Even the most motivated person struggles against the bombardment of advertising for high fat and high sugar foods and the difficulties of fitting physical activity into their already busy days.”

The report lists a range of national policies which could be developed to influence the way people eat and exercise. These include restricting advertising of high fat and high sugar foods (especially to children), providing subsidies on nutritious foods, particularly fruit and vegetables, nutritional labelling on all foods including those sold at fast food outlets and restaurants, increasing access to cycle ways, providing safe walking and recreational areas and incentives be physically active.

"These are all initiatives the OAC would support but unless funding is made available to implement them, they will not save the many people who die from obesity-related causes in New Zealand every year," Ms Murphy says.

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