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Ryall must take responsibility for cuts

Health Spokesperson

13 August 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT
Ryall must take responsibility for cuts to anti-obesity measures

Health Minister Tony Ryall needs to take responsibility for cuts made by the National Government that are hampering efforts to address New Zealand's obesity epidemic, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Grant Robertson.

"National has significantly cut spending on public health measures aimed at fighting obesity, including the Healthy Eating Healthy Action Strategy. National also played politics with the guidelines on healthy food in school canteens. These actions are damaging to improving our country's obesity rates," Grant Robertson said.

"An open letter from public health experts published in the New Zealand Medical Journal yesterday notes that approaches to reduce the burden of obesity have been systematically cut in the last three years. This year alone $124 million has been cut from public health spending.

“This is not good enough, especially when the consequences of New Zealand’s obesity epidemic are huge, not just for the health of the individuals but in terms of cost to the taxpayer.

"Mr Ryall's approach has been to cut funding for the programmes that will have long term benefit for New Zealand, and shift funding to his politically driven targets and slogans. This kind of short-term thinking is damaging for the future health and well-being of New Zealanders.

"Labour believes we need to invest in measures that keep New Zealanders healthy, and avoid the need for expensive interventions further down the track. Being healthy does not start in a doctor's office or in a hospital. It starts with keeping people healthy in our communities." Grant Robertson said.


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