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Tackling childhood obesity is not rocket science

Tackling childhood obesity is not rocket science Minister, but it is science

The Government’s latest snub of scientific evidence – this time about its failure to address childhood obesity – is another example of National’s reliance on ‘tobacco science’ to justify its denial agenda, the Green Party said today.

An Auckland University report, the Health Food Environment Policy Index in New Zealand, saw more than 50 National and International public health experts rate the Government's implementation of health policies against international best practice.

They found "very large implementation gaps in several important areas", including no comprehensive national plan to tackle obesity, no policies to reduce marketing of junk food to children and no plan to ensure healthy food in schools.

“This is the weightiest call to action, from the most credible obesity experts that this country has ever seen, and the Health Minister has dismissed their recommendations as both unsophisticated and unworthy of his attention,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said.

Tony Ryall has said National had no intention of introducing the measures recommended by all the experts describing his roundly-criticised healthy eating initiative as “a more sophisticated and evidence-based way of addressing obesity and other underlying causes of poor health”.

“This mumbo jumbo from Tony Ryall is classic ‘tobacco science’ in action. It’s yet another example of the Government brushing off the evidence, and all the experts, in order to justify its own agenda,” Mr Hague said.

“No wonder National is trying to take over university councils, and slashing funding for research, because every report that comes out of a university these days shows the Government is going in the wrong direction,”

Ryall’s dismissal of the Auckland University recommendations follows Climate Change Minister Tim Groser’s suggestion that a climate change mitigation expert “stick to his knitting” and John Key’s comment that science around river pollution from dairying was irrelevant because he could find another scientist to say that pollution doesn’t matter.

“The scientists have outlined an approach to tackling obesity which they say is “eminently doable”, but the Government won’t do it, preferring instead to watch a generation of children lose years off their lives,” Mr Hague said.

“Just like its approach to climate change, and water quality, scientists are saying this Government is not doing enough to reduce childhood obesity.

“Our childhood obesity epidemic requires the Government to regulate the environment that’s causing that obesity, through measures such as bans on promotion of unhealthy food to kids, ensuring food sold at schools and ECE centres is healthy.

“Tackling childhood obesity is not rocket science, but it is science, and its time for the Government to stop denying that matters,” Mr Hague said.


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