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Childhood obesity problem needs funding

Childhood obesity problem needs funding

The National Children’s Nutrition Survey has revealed that almost a third of children between 5 and 14 years are above a healthy weight. One in10 children are obese.

Most worrying is the extremely high incidence of obesity among Pacific children. Around two thirds of Pacific children are overweight or obese. Thirty three percent are overweight and 28 percent obese.

“This situation is really desperate. These obese children risk a host of serious health consequences. If they grow into obese adults, and we know many them will, they are likely to die of the consequences of their obesity before their parents. Diabetes used to be a disease of the middle aged and elderly but it is now starting to appear in obese youngsters. Some show early signs of heart disease and many suffer low self esteem.” says Celia Murphy, Executive Director of the Obesity Action Coalition.

The Obesity Action Coalition believes the whole social environment needs to change to make a difference and reduce the incidence of obesity. According to Ms Murphy “Living a physically active life and choosing healthy food options is hard and not the most obvious way to live anymore. Labour saving technologies have taken away so much of our daily physical activity and so many of our spare time activities are now sedentary.

We can make people aware of what to do but until people can make the right healthy choices easily and be supported by a healthy environment they will continue to struggle with their weight. For many people right now the healthy choices are the hardest to make while the unhealthy choices are the easiest. It’s easier to take the kids in the car than to walk them to school, and it’s easier to buy takeaways than prepare a nutritious meal at home. Healthy foods are often more expensive less healthy options and for those struggling to make ends meet economy takes precedence over health. In addition high fat, high sugar foods are so much more visible than better options.”

The Obesity Action Coalition understands that solutions won’t just come from the health sector. “Our local environments – cities and towns, roads, transport systems, leisure areas, homes and public buildings must be geared to make people more active. The education system, right from early childhood to tertiary levels, needs to teach and encourage healthy life choices. Food manufacturers and advertisers have an important part to play as well.

This is a serious issue for government. The funding for obesity issues is not adequate at present. Just talking about obesity won’t solve it – it needs leadership and money. We hope the results of this survey will jolt the government into finding the money to support work to help our fat and inactive society.” says Ms Murphy.

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