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Support for new ideas in fight against obesity

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

25 October 2006 Media Statement

Support for new ideas in fight against obesity

The Labour-led government is throwing its support behind four new projects to fight obesity with an $800,000 investment from the Healthy Eating, Healthy Action Innovation Fund, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced today.

The new initiatives include projects to encourage Maori and Pacific Island families to improve nutrition and increase physical activity and an eight-week programme to support obese children and their families to improve their lifestyles.

"Poor nutrition and a lack of physical activity are now the leading causes of premature death in New Zealand," Pete Hodgson said. "Finding new ways to encourage families to get active and to eat healthy food has become our most pressing public health challenge.

"The problem is that we don't yet know what works in the fight against obesity. While New Zealand is not alone in facing this challenge, no country has figured out how to get on top of rising numbers of overweight and obese children.

"The Labour-led government believes New Zealand can lead the world on this issue. We are committed to funding innovative, community-based initiatives, evaluating them as we go, and putting momentum behind ideas that work."

The three-year $3 million Healthy Eating, Healthy Action Innovation Fund was established last year and originally funded 16 projects around the country. The government has made more funding available this year due to the fund's initial success.

The Innovation Fund is just one aspect of the Labour-led government's work to encourage New Zealanders to live healthier lives.

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.

Attached: Background information on new projects

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Background Information

The four projects which have received funding are:

Counties Manukau District Health Board - Counties Manukau Active Families Strategy

This programme aims to increase physical activity and improve nutrition for Maori, Pacific and children from low income backgrounds and their families in Counties Manukau. The programme will utilise the 'Active Families' model where families are referred to an accessible and culturally competent programme by way of a Green Prescription. GPs, nurses and some other health professionals can make the referral. The programme will improve knowledge of healthy levels of physical activity and good nutrition and encourage families to spend more time being physically active in their communities. Parents will also train other parents about healthy eating through a 'train the trainer' programme.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board - Project "Replace"

This project is targeted at an identified Maori population who demonstrate significant barriers to achieving minimum standards for nutrition and physical activity. The objectives include implementing nutrition and physical activity policy in Marae, sports clubs, kohanga reo and schools were project Replace is delivered, promoting the consumption of vegetables and fruit in Marae where project Replace is delivered.The project also aims to expand existing or develop new programmes to meet the particular needs of Maori communities served by Nga Mataapuna Oranga Primary Health Organisation.

Capital and Coast District Health Board - Green Prescription Active Families Programme

This programme calls on clinical and physical activity support for obese children in high-risk populations. This would extend the Green Prescription programme and provide face-to-face intensive support over time for obese children and their families/whanau. Sport Wellington's Active Families co-ordinator would receive referrals from primary health care professionals for obese or overweight children. A programme of monthly meetings will begin, including advice and education on nutrition and physical activity, goal setting, on-going support and encouragement.

Hutt Valley District Health Board - Te Wero - Healthy Lifestyles Initiative targeting obese children and their whanau

An 8 week programme for children and their whanau/families which will include working with whanau to make healthy food choices, take part in physical activity in their community and building self esteem through counselling, peer support of children and their whanau/families with the same issues, community support and encouragement, as well as education on tobacco, drugs and alcohol.


ENDS

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