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New report shows alarming trends in nutrition

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

24 October 2006 Media Statement

New report shows alarming trends in nutrition

A new report showing that the average Kiwi household spends more on confectionary every week than on fresh fruit underlines just how challenging it will be to improve the nutrition of New Zealand families, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

The Food and Nutrition Monitoring Report 2006 – released by the Minister today – includes the latest information on food supply and purchasing patterns, food and nutrient intake, nutritional status and factors influencing dietary intake.

Among the report's key findings are that the average household spends $6.50 on confectionary each week, but only $5.90 on fresh fruit.

The report also shows that last year fast-food chains, restaurants and cafes spent more than $67 million on advertising, compared to the $6.2 million spent on advertising fruit and vegetables.

"There is growing awareness that improving the nutrition of New Zealand families is one of our most pressing public health challenges," Pete Hodgson said. "This report underlines the urgency surrounding that task, but also shows how difficult it will be to make significant improvements.

"It's clear that recent decades have seen significant changes in the types of foods that New Zealanders eat, the sources of that food and the advertising of it. While it’s a mistake to link these factors alone to the alarming increase in obesity in this country, there can be no doubt that dramatic changes in diet need to be secured if we are to have any success in fighting the obesity epidemic."

Last month, Prime Minister Helen Clark launched Mission-On – a package of initiatives to encourage and support young people to improve their nutrition and rates of physical activity. Mission-On includes initiatives to improve the quality of food served in schools, reduce children's exposure to advertising of unhealthy food and a major social marketing campaign.

"A key element of Mission-On will see the Ministry of Health working with the Food Industry Group and advertisers on ways to curb advertising of unhealthy food to children. New Zealand's food industry has demonstrated a real commitment to improving the health of New Zealand families, but it's clear that more progress is needed."

The Food and Nutrition Monitoring Report 2006 was prepared by Public Health Intelligence at the Ministry of Health. It can be found online at


Questions and Answer Fact Sheet

1. How many deaths are caused each year by poor diet?

In 1997, it's estimated that poor diet contributed to 8500 deaths. Indicators of poor diet includes higher than optimal blood pressure, blood cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), and inadequate fruit and vegetable intake.

2. Why is food and nutrition monitoring important?

Improving nutrition and reducing obesity are priority areas for the Government. Relevant, reliable and timely food and nutrition monitoring data provide a basis for informed decision-making and are essential for the development and monitoring of effective food and nutrition-related policies, programmes and services.

3. What is the purpose of this monitoring report?

The report is a synthesis of the most up-to-date and readily available food and nutrition monitoring data for New Zealand. The report is a readily accessible one-stop shop for professionals and agencies working the spectrum of nutrition and health policy or service provision. Although most of the data included in the report are available elsewhere, this is the first time the information has been brought together in one resource.

4. Why does this report have a national focus?

This report has a national focus because some data are available only at a national level or are not easily accessible for population subgroups. However, where possible, sociodemographic and regional inequalities in food and nutrition indicators will be the focus of future reports in this series.

5. What is included in the report?

The report includes data on all key food and nutrition monitoring domains, including food supply and purchasing patterns, food composition, food and nutrient intake, nutritional status (including body size), and nutrition-related health status. The report also includes information on factors affecting food and nutrient intake, such advertising expenditure on food, food outlet density, and food security. Monitoring is purely descriptive, with insights typically gained by tracking changes over time, examining differences between population subgroups or geographic areas, or comparing observed levels with expected or target levels.

6. What is the Healthy Eating - Healthy Action Strategy?

Healthy Eating – Healthy Action or HEHA is the strategic approach to improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and achieving a healthy weight for all New Zealanders. Healthy Eating – Healthy Action is an umbrella strategy that aims to engage and initiate a range of cross-government programmes within schools, early childhood education services, workplaces and communities around New Zealand.

The aim of Healthy Eating – Healthy Action is an environment and society where individuals, families, whanau and communities are supported to eat well, live physically active lives, and attain and maintain a healthy body weight.

7. What are some examples of Healthy Eating – Healthy Action initiatives?

Current Healthy Eating – Healthy Action initiatives include Fruit in Schools, the schools and early childhood education services Nutrition Fund, the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative which promotes breast-feeding, and the youth lifestyle programme Mission-On.

8. What is Mission-On?

Mission-On is a broad-based package of ten initiatives to give young New Zealanders and their families the tools to improve their nutrition and increase physical activity. The initiatives will be delivered through SPARC, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health and builds on existing cross-government programmes within schools, early childhood education services, and communities around New Zealand.


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