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Social Report Findings Need Radical Solutions

Social Report Findings Need Radical Solutions

PHA calls for free fruit and vegetable vouchers

Government should give free fruit and vegetable vouchers to low income families and trial free breakfasts in primary schools to fight New Zealand's growing obesity epidemic, according to the Public Health Association.

PHA director Gay Keating says it is alarming that the Government's Social Report ranks New Zealand poorly at 22 out of 27 OECD countries in the late 1990s for obesity. Dr Keating says the report notes that especially for women, obesity is linked to poverty.

"The government needs to start looking at some radical options to ensure healthy food is available for everyone."

Dr Keating says nutrition related disorders, such as obesity, are a leading cause of death in this country and the burden is falling heavily on those on low incomes.

"One fifth of children are living in families where food runs out because of lack of money. Those children are being denied access to nutritious food."

The PHA is concerned the Social Report generally paints a gloomy picture of the way New Zealand treats its children, with high rates of child deaths by maltreatment and high rates of youth suicide. Dr Keating says the report notes the proportion of school leavers with higher qualifications is dropping and that in 2001, 35 percent of children under 18 years were in households with housing costs exceeding 30 percent of income, a three-fold increase on 1988.

Dr Keating says New Zealanders -both government and individuals -need to value children more.

"That means protecting children from family violence, ensuring they are adequately fed and housed, and protected from junk food advertising," Dr Keating says.


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