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Call to Action: Healthy Eating-Healthy Action

Call to Action: Healthy Eating-Healthy Action

Health Minister Annette King today launched the Healthy Eating-Healthy Action: Oranga Kai-Oranga Pumau implementation plan, a call to action to reverse our expanding waistlines and get us off the couch.

Health Minister Annette King says the Healthy Eating-Healthy Action: Oranga Kai-Oranga Pumau implementation plan is a call to action to reverse our expanding waistlines and get us off the couch.

Launched at Parliament today by Ms King, the plan draws together the many strands that contribute to eating healthy food, being physically active and reducing obesity into one framework.

The key population health messages driving the plan are based on the Ministry of Health's food and nutrition guidelines and Sport and Recreation New Zealand's (SPARC) physical activity guidelines. These include eating more fruit and vegetables and being active for at least 30 minutes a day.

The plan addresses the significant risk factors - poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and obesity -- which are strongly linked to poorer health outcomes, in particular type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Studies show that even small changes in nutrition and physical activity can make a significant difference in population health over time. "We must support this implementation plan for Healthy Eating-Healthy Action and make it easy for New Zealanders to follow the key messages if we are serious about making a difference to the future health of our nation," says Ms King.

However, the health sector alone can not achieve the outcomes in the plan, she says. A wide range of government and private sector agencies were involved in its development over 15 months and that collaboration will need to continue to make the plan a reality.

"SPARC, the lead government agency for physical activity, will invest approximately $13 million over the next four years in implementing the key physical activity initiatives in the plan."

The plan identifies 26 outcomes, with 87 actions needed to achieve those outcomes. Eleven of the actions have been identified as a 'Start Here' list.

Contact: John Harvey (04) 471 9305, Keiran Bleach (04) 470 6851 or John Saunders at the Ministry of Health (04) 496 2265. Questions and Answers

Why was the Healthy Eating-Healthy Action (HEHA) implementation plan developed? The implementation plan was developed following the release of the HEHA Strategy in March 2003. The strategy was a high-level framework, which had as its goals three of the population health objectives of the New Zealand Health Strategy: to improve nutrition; increase physical activity and reduce obesity.

Why do we need Healthy Eating-Healthy Action? Too many New Zealanders are becoming ill or dying from diseases and health conditions that could be prevented by good nutrition, and being physically active. Projections suggest that obesity is rising rapidly and will result in thousands of New Zealanders suffering from serious diseases and health conditions in the near future. Two out of five deaths each year (approximately 11,000 annually) are due to nutrition-related risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, and inadequate vegetable and fruit intake. Of these 11,000 deaths 8,000-9,000 are likely to be due to dietary factors alone and the remaining 2,000-3,000 are due to sub-optimal physical activity levels.

Why is prevention important? It is well established that preventing obesity is far easier than curing it. To prevent people becoming obese they must be in energy balance - that is they must eat enough food that can be burned up through the energy they expend being physically active. Even a slightly positive energy balance is enough, over a period of time, to cause a person to move from being of a normal weight to being overweight or obese.

Why is there an emphasis on the environment in the plan and the strategy? The emphasis on the environment is all about making the "healthy choices the easy choices". Knowledge about what is healthy for you does not necessarily translate into action. For example, unless the healthy food choices are available and affordable they will not be eaten. The plan includes actions around schools, workplaces, marae and churches increasing the availability of healthy food choices and opportunities to be physically active.

Who are the key players in the implementation of HEHA? The key players are:

• The health sector -- not only the Ministry of Health but also District Health Boards, Public Health Units, Primary Health Organisations, public health and primary care providers, community based providers and organisations, health professionals and non-government organisations - agencies such as the Heart Foundation, Cancer Society and Diabetes New Zealand

• Sport and Recreation New Zealand, the Sports Trusts and physical activity providers

• The education sector such as the Ministry of Education, the tertiary institutions, schools and early childhood centres, academics and researchers

• Food and food service industry, including fast food, vegetable and fruit, grocery, restaurant

• Physical activity industry, including gyms

• Advertising and the media

• Local government - this sector will have a particular role to play in influencing the built environment but also in liaising with the many nutrition and physical activity regional and local groups setting themselves up around the country

• The transport and energy conservation sector - encouragement of walking and cycling is seen as key to getting people active in New Zealand.

Who developed the implementation plan?

Four different groups were involved in the development of the implementation plan over the 15 months it took to develop.

• An external advisory group of nutrition, physical activity, obesity and health promotion experts including DHB representation

• A group representing government agencies and ministries

• A group representing the food, physical activity, media and advertising industries

• An internal group with representatives from the Ministry of Health and SPARC

What exactly is in the plan?

The plan contains 26 identified outcomes and 87 actions to achieve these outcomes. The plan has actions phased into three two-year phases. A "Start Here" list of 11 actions was identified by the advisory group and includes:

• Developing and implementing a comprehensive communication plan to ensure consistent nutrition and physical activity messages.

• Promotion of nutrition physical activity and obesity issues in preschools and schools

• Initiate development and implementation of a range of social marketing strategies to facilitate behavioural changes supporting healthy eating healthy action and healthy weight

• Develop and implement a strategy to increase the capacity and capability of trained Maori and Pacific health professionals and community workers

Are there any other activities being organised on the day of the launch?

The Taranaki District Health Board is organising a local HEHA launch in partnership with the local Child Obesity Action Group and Marfell Primary School at lunchtime. Marfell School is a health-promoting school and is very involved in providing an environment that supports healthy eating and physical activity for the pupils. Activities will include a fun run, a celebrity challenge and a healthy lunch. The Mayor of New Plymouth, Peter Tennant, and celebrity Grant Berghan have agreed to participate and speak at the launch. Contact Bev Rea, phone 07 7537777 ext 8535

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