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New reports on cancer and obesity

New reports on cancer and obesity show Government must take action 

- Obesity Action Coalition
1 November 2007

The findings of two new health reports mean Government must implement key recommendations from the Inquiry into Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes says the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

A major international report from the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research shows a link between obesity and some cancers; while a Ministry of Health report shows that more than 50 percent of New Zealand adults are overweight or obese.

OAC director Leigh Sturgiss says the international nutrition and cancer report states that maintaining a healthy weight throughout life may be one of the most important ways to protect against cancer; as well as against other common chronic diseases.

"The evidence is quite clear, only a small proportion of cancers are inherited, where as environmental factors are most important and can be easily modified.

"At the same time, we have confirmation from the Ministry of Health that over 50 percent of New Zealanders are overweight or obese. We are in a crisis situation, with many New Zealanders facing an increased cancer risk because of their weight."

She says it is now vital that targets proposed in the Health Select Committee report into obesity and type 2 diabetes are met.

"The report included targets of reducing the increase in the rate of obesity in children and youth by 2010, cutting by 20 percent the prevalence of obesity in children and youth by 2015, and narrowing the ethic gaps in childhood obesity rates so that by 2015, the rates are equally low in all ethnic groups."

Government has until the end of November to respond to the Select Committee report, and indicate which recommendations it will be accepting.

"In the face of the two reports released today, coming out with a weak or ineffective response to the obesity and type 2 diabetes report is simply not an option for the Government.

"If the targets set out in the report are to be met, Government must implement the report’s recommendations. For instance; we need a ban on advertising of unhealthy foods where children make up a significant proportion of the viewing audience; and a ‘traffic light’ labeling system for food to help people identify unhealthy food. We also need to establish a committee to make sure the report is implemented, monitored and evaluated." 

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