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Diabetes New Zealand Funds Research On Legislation

Diabetes New Zealand Funds Research On Legislation

Research conducted for FOE - Fight the Obesity Epidemic - and Diabetes New Zealand released today has identified that there is an extensive body of ‘anti obesity’ legislation either already in place or proposed in many countries.

“We are sure of one thing,” says Russell Finnerty, President of Diabetes New Zealand, “while we wait for the Minister to release the results of submissions on the revision of the public health legislation, the obesity and diabetes epidemics are continuing. Unfettered promotion and consumption of junk foods is impacting on our children and our population generally and we have to do something about it,” he says.

Three key legislative measures, prohibition of the sale of certain foods and drinks in schools, restrictions on TV advertising, and selective taxation, have been identified in overseas jurisdictions.

The United States has strong federal regulation of foods sold in cafeterias during lunch times. California has state legislation that limits the sale of unhealthy foods in schools.

Restrictions on targeting the advertising of unhealthy foods to children on television is found in Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Denmark, and the Canadian province of Quebec, which prohibits advertising during children’s programmes. The United Kingdom and Ireland have both considered Private Member’s bills to prohibit the television advertising of unhealthy food and drink during children’s programmes.

Taxation at state level in the United States shows the revenue gathering potential of small taxes on soft drink and snack foods for spending on public health. Surveys in the United States found that 45% of adults would support such a tax if revenue were spent on health education, even before the current media furore over the ‘obesity epidemic’.

“We are encouraged by the number of new initiatives we are hearing about that restrict access to junk foods in schools, and would like this further supported by government,” Additionally selective taxes on foods known to contribute to poor health would assist in funding the health budget, while positive incentives to encourage healthier foods would have long term benefits”, says Russell Finnerty.

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