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NZ facing an obesity epidemic and physical inactivity crisis

Leading New Zealand exercise expert Richard Beddie says an obesity epidemic is gripping New Zealand which also has a physical inactivity crisis, being the 13th worst in the world - and the worst for children with only 10 percent meeting WHO guidelines.

Beddie, chief executive of Exercise New Zealand says the country needs to wake up to the fact that 90 percent of Kiwi children do not meet the World Health Organisation activity deadlines.

He made the comment today following a report from the UK confirming caffeinated sugar-packed drinks such as Monster and Red Bull could begin falling out of favour with UK consumers as the government announces banning the sale of energy drinks to children under the age of 16.

Beddie says immediate and serious government action needs to be taken, beyond presenting information.

“As a country we must change the environment in which children and adults are falling into the obesity and lack of exercise trap.

“That’s’ squarely the role of government which has to make tough decisions. Exercise NZ is keen to work with and advise government the way forward because evidence shows that with lack of people’s activity, especially children, the politicians in power need to make the hard calls and fast.

“Evidence that sugary drinks, which include energy drinks, are a major contributor to not only obesity, but other health conditions, and steps can be taken to reduce their harm by reducing access.

“If the same number of people that were prematurely dying from health conditions directly attributed to obesity and physical activity were combined we would be taking urgent action.

“The problem is the effects aren’t instant; they are often hidden. But the data is there plain for all to see. To put it into perspective: the annual road toll in New Zealand is around 300 deaths a year. Lack of physical activity accounts for 12.7 percent of all deaths annually. In 2015, that was just under 4000 individuals - more than 10 times the road toll.

“We need action and we need it now. We are here to support and work with the government on evidence-based decisions to change the environment to reduce obesity and increase physical activity,” Beddie says.

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