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Strong mandate for change in canteens and on TV

Media Release
Issued 24 July 2005

Strong mandate for change in school canteens and on TV

Politicians now have the proof they need that there is a strong mandate for changing what our children eat and drink at school, and what advertisements they see on television, says Fight the Obesity Epidemic (FOE) spokesperson Dr Robyn Toomath.

A BRC survey commissioned by FOE shows that 84% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that unhealthy food and drink products should not be sold in school canteens and vending machines.

Almost three quarters (71%) of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that advertisements for unhealthy food and drink products should be banned during children’s television programmes.

“When this public endorsement is added to all the scientific, medical and epidemiological evidence that urgent action needs to be taken to curb the obesity epidemic, one has to seriously wonder why politicians continue to fail to take appropriate action,” says Dr Toomath.

“New Zealand children are among the fattest in the world. The rapidly increasing rate of Type 2 diabetes among our children shows that urgent measures must be taken to stop the obesity epidemic in its tracks.

“Television is a potent force in the lives of most children and statistically, the more a child watches, the worse his or her diet is, and the fatter he or she will become. The only hope a parent has to restrict the subversive effects of TV advertising right now is to turn it off.

“Next to the home, school is the most influential environment for children and we are not only wasting the opportunity to teach them good habits, we are also giving them completely wrong messages by allowing schools to sell soft drink and junk food.

“The results of this poll are important in that they provide politicians with the mandate needed to regulate the environment in order to protect children from influences contributing to the obesity epidemic,” says Dr Toomath.

Interviewing was undertaken between 14 and 20 June 2005 and achieved a final sample of 489 New Zealanders aged 20 years and over.

A summary of the poll survey results is available on FOE’s website at http://www.foe.org.nz/publications.html

About FOE

Fight the Obesity Epidemic (FOE) is a voluntary organisation working to promote policies to stop and reverse the rise of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in children. It is working to change the New Zealand social, cultural, physical and regulatory environment so that it is easier for all New Zealanders, especially children, to maintain a healthy body weight. This is a huge challenge.

FOE was founded in 2001 at a meeting of the International Diabetes Federation and WHO in Kuala Lumpur. It first gained wide media coverage in 2002 after noting the dire consequences when the Ministry of Health forecast dramatic increases in Type 2 diabetes and obesity by 2011. FOE has members across New Zealand and an executive in Wellington. Visit www.foe.org.nz


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