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PHA Urges Parents To Have Say On Childhood Obesity

PHA Urges Parents To Have Say On Childhood Obesity

30 March 2006

The Public Health Association is urging parents and caregivers to have their say on the alarming increase in overweight and obese children in New Zealand.

Parliament's Health Committee is holding an inquiry into Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in New Zealand. The closing date for submissions is 26 April 2006.

PHA Director Dr Gay Keating says that parents often get the blame if their children are overweight, but the issue is actually far more complex.

“Parents have an important role to play in helping their children maintain a healthy weight. But many are fighting a losing battle because they are living in an environment that constantly promotes unhealthy options.

“For example, it is really difficult to convince your child to have an apple as a snack, when they are bombarded with colourful, enticing advertisements for high fat, high sugar food. Fast food companies spend millions to ensure that their ads push all the right buttons.”

Obesity Action Coalition Director Celia Murphy says that school tuck shops and cafes also provide a challenge.

“It’s hard to persuade older children that fruit, sandwiches and water are a good option for lunch when the school tuck shop is selling chips, pies, and fizzy drink.”

Celia Murphy agrees that the Health Committee inquiry is a rare opportunity for parents to point out just how hard it is to get children to eat healthy food in the current high-fat, high-sugar, high-advertising environment.

“Parents must be getting sick of having the finger pointed at them over obesity especially when the finger pointing comes from a food industry that bombards their vulnerable children with glitzy advertising for unhealthy foods. To win the battle, we need to make the easy option the healthy option – and this is the message that must be given to the Select Committee.

“People will do what is easiest – that is human nature, so we need to make healthy eating easy. We should consider options like less advertising of high fat, high sugar foods; smaller portion sizes in restaurants, cafes and takeaway food outlets; stopping ‘up-sizing’ of food orders; and ensuring healthy food is sold in school tuck shops.”

Parents can get more information about making a submission or writing to the Health Select Committee on www.foe.org.nz

ENDS

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