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Stats On Maori Eating Should Make Positive Change

Statistics On Maori Eating Habits Should Effect Positive Change

NEW statistics showing the majority of Maori adults are either overweight or obese should signal a call to action for the community and health authorities, says Ministry of Health Chief Maori Advisor Dr Tony Ruakere.

NZ Food:NZ People. Key Results of the 1997 National Nutrition Survey found that nearly six out of every ten Maori adults were either overweight or obese, and that Maori obesity was about two times higher than the Pakeha rate.

"Many positive results are also found in the survey for Maori, such as a decrease in the energy contributed by fat of greater than ten percent since 1989."

"There has been anecdotal accounts for some time that obesity rates were high among Maori people but this is the first nationwide evidence of it," Dr Ruakere said.

"The statistics make grim reading. Particularly in light of the fact that being overweight puts a person at far greater risk of serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes.

"It will take a long time to reverse bad eating habits and physical inactivity which is why we need to start now. We believe we can make positive change.

"It is a good start to know the extent of the problem as it enables us to respond to the issue. The Ministry will now analyse the report, including the many complex linkages between obesity and other related factors such as physical activity and nutrition before considering what policy initiatives could help.

"The report's findings show that specific health and nutrition programmes are needed for Maori people.

"The Te Hotu Manawa Maori programme, a number of Maori nutrition services and the many programmes run by other Maori health providers are positive but more needs to be done," Dr Ruakere said.

A fact sheet detailing the survey results specific to Maori has been prepared, as the report is quite long and information on Maori eating patterns is spread throughout it. About 3000 fact sheets will be distributed to Maori health providers and researchers.

ENDS


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