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NZ's obesity timebomb is car-related

NZ's obesity timebomb is car-related

Recent media stories highlight the appalling inactivity of today's Kiwi kids.

Cycling Action Network is calling for urgent action to curb childhood obesity.

A New Zealand study last year found that obese children are showing signs from a young age that they are at risk of developing serious weight-related problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart, and liver disease. Nationally, an estimated 85,000 children aged 2-14 years are obese, according to the 2016 New Zealand Health Survey.

Now, research by the same authors show that fewer than one in five of our kids (19 percent) do at least an hour of physical activity per day - the recommended amount. They had a daily average of 39 minutes activity. On average kids spend two-and-a-half hours each day watching screens.

While diet is a major factor in the obesity crisis, lack of opportunities for kids to get outdoors and travel under their own steam is a significant contributor to this ticking timebomb of health problems.

Cycling Action Network Chair Will Andrews says CAN abhors the decades of car-dependent transport and urban planning that have condemned kiwi kids to unhealthy, boring lifestyles.

"Changing the way we get around, especially for trips of 5km or less, is now urgent."

"Parents fear letting kids bike or walk to school because of the levels of traffic - traffic made up substantially of other parents doing the school run! Travel surveys show that around 40 percent of our journeys are less than 6km in length - a perfect bike riding distance."

NZTA, Auckland Transport, and other bodies throughout the country are now waking up to how simple changes in our town and transport planning can release the pent-up demand of kids to get out and active on their journeys.

"The road-map to a better life for Kiwi kids is clear- more cycling and walking infrastructure, better road user behaviour, reduced subsidies for car dependence, and limits on urban sprawl. It's time to get active."


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