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Obesity squeezes household and national finances

Obesity squeezes household and national finances

Obesity is a growing problem for New Zealand – and it’s also becoming a costly one, says 5+ A Day.

Thirty-one per cent of New Zealand adults and 11 per cent of New Zealand children are now obese, according to a recent Ministry of Health report. And it lays the blame on diets high in salt and saturated fat, and not enough exercise.

5+ A Day nutritionist Bronwen Anderson says the latest figures are alarming.

“Obesity increases a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease,” says Bronwen. “Dealing with the complications of these conditions has not just consequences for the individuals, but also has huge cost consequences for the health system.

“Childhood obesity is of extra concern as if it is not addressed it can have effects on long term health and longevity. Obesity can also impact on life in all sorts of other ways.”

Health experts agree that by eating more fruit and vegetables, New Zealanders would have a more balanced diet and be healthier. They would also help the country’s finances by helping to reduce expenditure on treating the diseases of obesity.

And eating more healthily would also help household budgets.

Making lunch at home is a cost-effective and easy way to boost fruit and vegetable intake and cut calories, says Bronwen.

A homemade sandwich with ham, mustard, egg, lettuce, tomato and cucumber, a pottle of low-fat yoghurt and a nectarine will cost on average just $3.37 and contains 361 calories and 8g of fat.

Meanwhile, a fast-food combo meal of a chicken burger, regular chips and drink costs on average $10.50 and contains 659 calories and 24g of fat.

“Taking a few minutes to put together a homemade lunch can have an impact on overall calorie, vitamin and mineral intake and decrease the overall amount of saturated fat for the day. But not only that, the healthier lunch is much, much cheaper,” says Bronwen.

Carolyn Cairncross from the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation says exposing children to a wide range of fruit and vegetables at an early age is important in setting healthy eating habits for the future.

“Establishing a liking for fruit and vegetables early in life means children will continue eating these healthy foods when they are adults,” says Carolyn. “People who eat lots of fruit and vegetables are less likely to be overweight and having lower rates of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

To encourage people to eat more fruit and vegetables, the 5+ A Day Challenge, starting on February 1, encourages New Zealanders to add an extra serving of fruit or vegetable to their day to boost their health and wellbeing.

“This is such a simple Challenge but one which can have an impact on health. Just adding one serving, which is what fits in the palm of your hand, is not a big ask,” says Bronwen.

The month-long Challenge will run through the 5+ A Day Facebook page ( where people will be able to find recipes and tips on how to add an extra serving to their day.

Visit for inspiration and details on how to enter the 5+ A Day Challenge.


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