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Government’s new healthy eating initiative a good first step

Government’s new healthy eating and anti-obesity initiative a great first step

17 March 2014

The PHA welcomes Health Minister Hon Tony Ryall’s, announcement of the first step in the roll out of the Government’s new healthy eating and anti-obesity initiative – Healthy Families NZ.

“We are delighted the Government is publicly recognising the importance of New Zealand families being able to live healthy, active lives,” says PHA President Dr Jean Simpson.

Dr Simpson says the focus on a specific and discrete number of high-risk communities is particularly pleasing as it will allow a robust evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme as it is rolled out.

“The Minister talks of this programme as part of the Government’s approach to addressing the underlying causes of poor health through partnership with communities. This approach is welcome because the building blocks for good health are laid in the early years in family, school and community life,” Dr Simpson said.

“To be confident Healthy Families NZ is successful, particularly for poorer children, we expect the programme will include Government-level action to ensure families have the resources required to make healthy choices.”

About 180,000 children in New Zealand (17 percent) are missing out on things they need – and that the rest of our society takes for granted – including adequate footwear, seeing a doctor or getting a prescription when they are sick. They are going without the sufficient meat, fruit and vegetables needed for a healthy diet.

“The Government needs to address secure employment so families have sufficient income to choose healthy foods. Healthy foods are often more expensive to buy than unhealthy foods and costly footwear is often needed for taking part in healthy activities such as organised sport.

“We need to ensure secure housing so low-income families have don't have to shift all the time because they can't afford the rent. This will ensure they can build community relationships, grow gardens, join clubs and make lasting friendships. Children need to be able to stay at one school and not be constantly on the move or sharing crowded housing with other families.

“There’s not enough good public transport in many places. Work may be available, but if it is distant from their homes, people need good transport systems so they can get to work on time and home again at a reasonable hour to care for their children.

“We need to ensure consistently fair conditions at work so people can take leave when their children are sick without losing their jobs.

“These are the sorts of policies we expect to see addressed in Healthy Families NZ so individuals, families and communities are empowered to make healthy choices in their lives, and when all communities enjoy good health, everybody in New Zealand will benefit,” Dr Simpson said.

ENDS

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