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Obesity rates slowing but work needs to continue

Hon Damien O’Connor
Associate Minister of Health


4 June 2008 Media Statement
Obesity rates slowing but work needs to continue

Obesity rates among New Zealand children remain static and the increase in obesity among adults has slowed according to survey results released today, said Associate Minister of Health Damien O'Connor.

Results released today from A Portrait of Health: Key results of the 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey show one in 12 children are obese and a quarter of all kiwi adults are obese.

Mr O’Connor said obesity rates are still too high and more work is needed to continue the inroads already being made.

“The government's investment in the Healthy Eating - Healthy Action project and related public health initiatives are having some effect on improving obesity rates and nutrition of New Zealanders, but we can't take our foot off the pedal just yet.

“These results confirm that reducing obesity, improving nutrition and increasing physical activity needs to remain a top government priority to improve the overall health of all New Zealanders. That’s why the Labour-led government committed $52 million over the next four years in this year’s Budget to several initiatives aimed at improving nutrition and fighting obesity.”

Mr O'Connor said the results from the Survey indicate that obesity rates are higher for Maori and Pacific communities than the total population so the focus must remain on improving health outcomes for these groups.

“Pacific peoples are two and a half times more likely to be obese than the total population and Māori are approximately one and a half times more likely. The government has an ongoing commitment to reducing health inequalities amongst Māori and Pacific populations."

Since the Health Eating Healthy Action (HEHA) Implementation Plan was launched in 2004, the government has progressively rolled out HEHA initiatives and related nutrition and physical activity initiatives over the past four years, significantly building the momentum over the last two years.

The Health Select Committee Inquiry into Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes released last year recommended that the government establish a HEHA Ministerial Committee, a HEHA Sector Steering Group and review the HEHA implementation plan.

“Much of this work is now underway and it will go a long way to ensuring we halt increasing obesity rates and ensuring we begin to see a decline over the next five to ten years,” said Mr O’Connor.

ENDS

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