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Time to put obesity research into practice in NZ

2 February 2006

Time to put obesity research into practice in NZ

New Zealand's success in fighting obesity will rely on our ability to link research to partnerships in our communities, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

Pete Hodgson announced late last year that work to combat New Zealand's obesity epidemic would be one of his top priorities as Health Minister.

"I'm very pleased to see growing public awareness of the very real threat obesity poses for New Zealand," Pete Hodgson said. "But it's time for New Zealanders to realise that fighting obesity means a lot more than telling people to eat apples and to start jogging."

The Minister's comments follow his visit to the Auckland University School of Population Health, where researchers are working with 3,000 South Auckland school children to develop practical nutrition, fitness and lifestyle programmes. It follows a similar interaction with Otago University researchers last year.

The Auckland researchers are examining the impact of adult supervision, video games, television and in-school fitness activities. The goal is to determine which programmes, and which public health messages, are most successful in helping children develop healthy lifestyles.

"Researchers are telling us that combating obesity in our children will require a detailed examination of the messages we're sending out and the programmes we're developing. This is real science – complete with randomised control groups – but it's also real life.

"We can't afford to rely too heavily on lecturing kids about eating healthier food. We have to figure out what works, and we have to help young New Zealanders change their habits."


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