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Govt investing strongly in programmes to slow obesity cycle

Hon Tony Ryall
Minister of Health

30 May 2014

Government investing strongly in programmes to slow obesity cycle

The National-led Government is investing strongly in programmes to support pregnant women and new mums to understand the importance of good nutrition and physical activity for their babies and for themselves.

Health Minister Tony Ryall spoke about the importance of newborn and maternal nutrition and the range of anti-obesity programmes the government is investing in at the opening of the new Kawerau Medical Centre today.

“Research suggests that preconditions for overweight and obesity are set very early,” said Mr Ryall.

“On Breakfast TV this morning, Professor Wayne Cutfield from the Liggins Institute said women who are obese before they become pregnant are much more likely to have an obese infant, who then goes on to become an obese adult, who then has an obese child – continuing the obesity cycle.

“Experts, including Professor Cutfield, say if we want to make a difference in our communities we need to focus on pregnant women and try and prevent obesity at earlier stages and stop the obesity cycle. And that’s what this government is doing.

“Over the past year we have funded a number of programmes throughout the country focusing on improving women’s health in pregnancy and the postnatal period and promoting good nutrition for their infants and toddlers.”

The new newborn and maternal nutrition initiatives include:
• $1.6 million for an initiative where new mums in Auckland are sent a text with healthy eating messages and provided support
• $1.1 million to expand Project Energize, a successful nutrition and exercise programme, to pre-schoolers in the Waikato
• $680,000 for a programme to encourage Taranaki Mums to eat and exercise well during and after pregnancy
• $1.5 million in a nutrition and parenting project in South Auckland
• $800,000 project in Wellington to improve the quality of nutrition and exercise advice given to pregnant women.

“We have also committed $40 million in Budget 2014 for a new community based anti-obesity programme. Ten communities, including Rotorua, have been selected to be part of the new Healthy Families initiative, which is expected to reach of around 900,000 New Zealanders.

“Encouraging families to live healthy, active lives is part of the Government’s approach to reducing obesity in New Zealand,” said Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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