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Food poverty a damning indictment of Govt policy

New research showing that many New Zealanders are suffering the health effects of food poverty, is a damning indictment of the Government's economic policies, says safe food campaigner and Green Party health spokesperson Sue Kedgley.

The New Zealand Network Against Food Poverty report released today says 50 per cent of Pacific people, 33 per cent of Maori and 10 per cent of European/Other New Zealanders report that "food runs out often or sometimes" due to lack of money, and that people are having to choose between food and other basic needs.

Ms Kedgley said a healthy diet was the key to good health.

"All the nutrients we need for good health - vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, etc - should come from the food we eat. If people eat too few or too many of these nutrients their health will inevitably suffer, their health bills will sky-rocket and this will trap them further into poverty and ill-health."

The high and rising levels of food poverty in New Zealand show that the Government's economic policies, designed to make New Zealand more wealthy, had failed. Increasing numbers of people were becoming poorer and their health was suffering as a result.

The report also shows that 17 per cent of the adult population are obese and 35 per cent are overweight. Lack of exercise and high-fat food were to blame, it said.

Ms Kedgley said obesity was a health problem across the socio-economic spectrum.

"People from high- as well as low-income households eat unhealthy food. As a nation we spend twice as much money on takeways and eating out than on fruit and vegtables," she said.

New Zealand urgently needs nutrition education to ensure people are aware which foods contain the nutrients they need for good health.

New Zealanders also need to be aware of hidden hazards in the food they eat - additives banned in other countries, residues of hazardous pesticides, and genetically engineered ingredients, etc - that may undermine their health, Ms Kedgley said.


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