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Bold action needed on child obesity

Bold action needed on child obesity

The Green Party is calling for bold, sweeping actions from the government in response to the new Hawkes Bay study by paediatricians confirming that the number of obese children in New Zealand has doubled over the past 11 years.

"We have strategies and studies coming out of our ears, but almost no concrete action from the government to curb this well-researched epidemic," said Green Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley.

"We now know that a significant proportion of New Zealand children are following their American peers down the path of an obesity epidemic, and that this will have dire consequences for the future health of our nation.

"What we need is bold action from the government instead of timid inaction and ever more strategies," she said.

Ms Kedgley called on the government to implement an action programme that would include funding a nationwide "Free Fruit in Schools" programme, removing television advertisements from children's television, removing vending machines selling high sugar drinks from schools and hospitals, and introducing healthy eating programmes and comprehensive nutrition education in all schools and preschools.

The government should also target food manufacturers, as the UK government had done, and require them to cut salt, fat and sugar levels in processed food, or face the prospect of their products being labelled as 'high in fat, salt and sugar'.

"We send too many mixed messages to our children about healthy and unhealthy eating. The whole healthy-eating effort is completely undermined whenever our children see a soda vending machine in a school and a tuckshop menu full of junk.

"If we want to encourage children to eat healthy diets, we need to control the amount of advertising of unhealthy, low-nutrient junk foods on New Zealand television and declare all of our schools to be advertising and marketing free zones," Ms Kedgley said. "It is simple commonsense."

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