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Obesity worse than smoking for health impacts on Kiwis

Obesity worse than smoking for health impacts on Kiwis

The NZ College of Public Health Medicine is backing the New Zealand Medical Association’s call for more urgent and coordinated action on the country’s obesity time bomb, claiming it will soon be a bigger problem than smoking.

With two thirds of adults and one third of children either overweight or obese, the College says that New Zealand is on track for obesity to overtake tobacco as the leading cause of health loss by 2016.

“We can’t afford to overlook the severity and long-term ramifications of this issue and how it will affect children as they grow and develop,” says College president, Dr Julia Peters.

“What is needed is a comprehensive approach, including legislative and regulatory controls, similar to what has been applied to smoking over the last 30 years.”

Programmes designed to address the issue need to focus on prevention, particularly amongst children and communities in which the epidemic is most profound.

“We need to be ‘making the healthy choice the easy choice’,” Dr Peters said.

“Fortunately, we have lessons from our success with tobacco control that can be applied to the obesity issue and also some examples of successful community-based programmes.

“However, as a society, we need to galvanise around a long-term, comprehensive strategy.

“This problem has crept up on us over 40 years and it is not going to go away overnight. A good place to start is the list of recommendations from the New Zealand Medical Association,” said Dr Peters.


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