Health Minister and Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman has today announced a comprehensive plan to reduce childhood obesity.
“Being overweight or obese is expected to overtake tobacco as the leading preventable risk to health in New Zealand within the next 12 months,” says Dr Coleman.
“There is no single solution that will fix obesity. That’s why we have developed a range of interventions across Government, the private sector, communities, schools and families.
“The Childhood Obesity Plan includes improved public information and resources; increasing physical activity, some of which will be done in education settings; actions for the health sector, and the food and beverage industry.
“Our plan focuses on children as that’s where the evidence shows we can have the greatest influence. By focusing on children we expect to also influence the whole family.”
The 22 initiatives in the plan are a mix of new or an expansion of existing services which are grouped into three key themes:
• Targeted interventions for those who are obese
• Increased support for those at risk of becoming obese
• Broad strategies to make healthier choices easier
“At the core of the plan is a new childhood obesity health target. This target will be part of the health targets programme from 1 July 2016,” says Dr Coleman.
“By December 2017, 95 per cent of children identified as obese in the B4 School Check will be referred to an appropriate health professional for clinical assessment and family based nutrition, activity and lifestyle interventions.
“The B4 School Check is a free health and development check for four year olds. The checks aim to identify and address any health, behavioural, social or development concerns which could affect a child’s ability to get the most benefit from school.
“Over 58,600 children have benefited from this free service in the last year. Of that, over 1,400 were referred on for obesity related support. With this target we expect that will treble to over 4,000 a year by December 2017.
“To support this new target a range of new and improved practical advice will be available for families and to assist health professionals.
“It’s also important that we encourage people to get active. A number of actions will be led by Sport NZ. The Ministry of Education is another key partner in the plan.
“Community programmes such as Healthy Families NZ will continue to roll out around the country while other programmes will be enhanced so they are better targeted to provide nutrition and activity support and advice to those who need it most.
“We are working with the food industry on the role they can play. Options discussed so far include appropriate marketing and advertising to children and food labelling.
“Childhood obesity is a serious issue which means some of our kids could end up living shorter lives than their parents.”
This package of initiatives will be funded from within existing health, sport and education budgets.
Further information about the Childhood Obesity Plan can be found on the Ministry of Health website, www.health.govt.nz.
Updated on 20th October 2015