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Budget 2006: $76 million to fight obesity epidemic

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

$76 million campaign to fight the obesity epidemic

New Zealand will undertake the largest campaign to fight obesity in our country's history as the result of a $76.1 million four-year investment through Budget 2006, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

"With little public attention or alarm, poor diet and physical inactivity have become New Zealand's leading causes of premature death," Pete Hodgson said. "Over 11,000 people die every year because they have lost touch with the basics of healthy living but their deaths could have been avoided.

"The problem is only getting worse. If we take no action we face the very real possibility that the current generation of New Zealand children will be the first to die younger than their parents.

"The Healthy Eating, Healthy Action strategy has been in place since 2003. Over the past few years we've begun trialing many genuine innovations in communities across the country as the strategy has been implemented.

"We've also gained a better sense of the challenges faced by families and communities in taking action on obesity. We're now ready to step up our efforts and our investments to address what has become our most serious public health challenge."

The full detail of the campaign will be made public in a series of announcements later in the year, with most involving a number of government and community agencies.

Pete Hodgson said the campaign would focus on initiatives with schools, primary health care, social agencies and food industry bodies. There will also be a major focus on leadership to coordinate the actions of government departments, researchers and public health professionals across the country.

"Today's announcement should be taken as further proof that the Labour-led government is serious about disease prevention," Pete Hodgson said. "We've developed a world-leading strategy to combat obesity and a primary health care system that is ready to meet the needs of New Zealand families.

"We are now in a position to put our money where our mouth is and invest heavily in fighting one of the greatest threats faced by New Zealand families. I hope all New Zealanders realise the importance of the work that is about to get underway."

ENDS

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