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Researchers’ video urges all NZers to act on obesity

Thursday 18 August 2011

Researchers’ video urges all New Zealanders to act on obesity

A video putting the spotlight on the looming health crisis threatened by our growing obesity epidemic, and how to avert it, is being launched by University of Otago researchers.

Commissioned by the University’s Edgar National Centre for Diabetes and Obesity Research, the video highlights the devastating impact obesity can have on individual health and the unbearable strain an unchecked epidemic will put on New Zealand’s health services.

Centre Director Professor Jim Mann says that the video, titled “The Obesity Epidemic” also presents a vision of how “actor groups” throughout our society can pull together to create an environment that will help avert the crisis.

“Prevention is the only realistic option to tackle the obesity epidemic. Once someone becomes obese or appreciably overweight it is a complex and costly exercise to treat their resulting health problems, especially diabetes-related ones. Nor is it easy for obese people to lose significant weight; this requires a substantial and sustained commitment in the face of an environment that strongly stacks the deck against them,” Professor Mann says.

The video explores how to change the current “obesogenic” environment – which provides easy access to far too much energy-dense food and does not encourage physical activity – to one which supports people to make healthier lifestyle choices.

“A large body of research shows that community-level interventions, especially in childhood, can successfully stop people from becoming obese. But achieving such change on a society-wide scale will require concerted action by many groups ranging from government down to families,” he says.

As well as featuring comment by leading obesity researchers, the video also includes interviews with representatives of some of the actor groups including a School Principal, MPs and the Managing Director of McDonald’s New Zealand who all explore the challenges involved.

“As I note in the video, we have to all work together to fix the obesity problem now because our society will not be able to cope with the consequences of leaving the situation as it is. As one example, we risk an impossible to meet demand on dialysis services stemming from a huge surge in the number of New Zealanders whose kidneys will be ruined by obesity-related diabetes,” Professor Mann says.

The video is now available on the Centre website, the University of Otago website, the University’s iTunesU channel and will later be available as a DVD. It was produced and directed by Dr Paul Trotman of PRN Films, who created the acclaimed “Donated to Science” documentary.

Link to video: http://www.otago.ac.nz/news/itunesu/podcasts/otago022513.mp4
Link to audio: http://www.otago.ac.nz/news/itunesu/podcasts/otago022512.mp3

ENDS

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