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What about obesity prevention?

26 January 2010
Media Statement

What about obesity prevention?

Labour is calling on the Government to support obesity prevention programmes as well as surgical options, Labour Health spokesperson Ruth Dyson says.

“Obesity surgery can be positive for many patients and Labour supports calls for additional Government funding. However, it’s ironic that so many Government MPs should be calling for increases in funding for obesity surgery when they signed off on cuts to funding for obesity prevention programmes just last year,” Ruth Dyson said.

“New Zealand is facing an obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic, but the National – Maori Party Government has slashed funding for diabetes and health promotion activities.

“Minister of Health Tony Ryall cut more than $4 million from the Let’s Get Checked diabetes programme each year. Diabetes rates are growing and a cut in funding for this programme is simply out of step with what is happening in New Zealand.

“DHBs like Counties Manukau - with the highest concentration of people at risk of Diabetes have been forced to stop funding for Let’s Beat Diabetes regional coordinators.

“In areas like Counties Manukau 29,000 people are currently diagnosed with diabetes and without any intervention it is estimated that this number could double by 2017.

"The Government apparently thinks people will simply be able to change their diet and exercise without any assistance or form of nutrition education.

“The Government has a very specific role in helping to fund and co-ordinate initiatives to combat obesity. Sadly obesity prevention programmes and funding appear to be at the top of the list for health services that have been cut.

“It is great that so many Government MPs are getting healthy, but perhaps they should also start thinking about the role Government can play in helping to prevent obesity.

“If those Government MPs who have called for increases in funding for gastric bypass and banding surgeries are serious about helping to combat New Zealand’s obesity and type 2 problems then they will stop supporting cuts in obesity funding,” Ruth Dyson said.

ENDS

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