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Fat chance for kiwi kids to be healthy

7 November, 2003
Fat chance for kiwi kids to be healthy

Green MP Sue Kedgley has repeated her calls for a ban on television advertising of high fat and high sugar foods to children, following today's release of the National Children's Nutrition Survey.

The survey showed that children's health declined after the age of five years-old, when parental control over eating became less of a factor and corresponded to an increase of television viewing by children. "The results of the Children's Nutrition Survey should be of great concern to all New Zealand parents," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Health spokesperson. "This is all the proof we need that our kids need protection from food companies who relentlessly pitch unhealthy foods at our kids.

"We must put a stop to the saturation of television advertising aimed at the most vulnerable minds, to encourage them to crave high fat, high sugar foods that we know are unhealthy," said Ms Kedgley.

"It's a double whammy for the health of kiwi kids. Not only are children sitting idly in front of a television, they're being convinced that all that brightly packaged, high fat, high sugar food is what they should eat.

"We need to act urgently before we see any further increase in 30 per cent of New Zealand children who are overweight and obese. We cannot continue to allow advertisements for unhealthy high fat and high sugar foods to pervade our television screens.

Ms Kedgley called on New Zealand parents to encourage their children into more physical activity, saying that today, National Push Play Day, was an appropriate day to get active.

"Saturated fat and sugar intake has soared but physical activity has declined, and we are already seeing the effects of this on our children, with startling rises in diabetes and obesity.

"When 27 per cent of all children watch more than two hours of television every day it should be no surprise that a third of kiwi kids are obese or overweight. Instead of pushing play on the video games, New Zealand children should be encouraged to get outside and get active.

"Physical activity doesn't have to involve belonging to a sports club, or needing to buy expensive equipment. It can be as simple as walking to school every day, and it's a shame that more than half of all school students were driven to and from school. The Walking School Bus is a scheme that all schools and parents should support, as it ensures the safety of our children walking to and from school," said Ms Kedgley.

Ms Kedgley said school environments should support, not undermine, healthy eating. "We should stop the practice of allowing food corporations to advertise and sell unhealthy food and drink in schools, classrooms and sports fields. Schools should be advertising and marketing free zones."


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