The Government has today announced a package of initiatives to prevent and manage obesity in children and young people.
The package provides targeted interventions for those who are obese, increased support for those at risk of becoming obese and broad approaches to make healthier choices easier for all New Zealanders.
“The focus is on food, the environment and being active at each life stage, particularly during pregnancy and early childhood – the stages that are vital for development,” says Dr Pat Tuohy, Chief Advisor Child and Youth Health.
One in nine children in New Zealand is obese with a further two overweight. Childhood obesity spans all ethnicities, genders and levels of deprivation.
Obesity is particularly concerning in children as it is associated with a wide range of health conditions and increased risk of premature onset of illness. It can affect a child’s immediate health, educational attainment and quality of life.
“We need to focus on our children so we can ensure they grow up to lead healthy lives.”
“The initiatives announced today allow us to build on some of the great work we already have underway, raise awareness of existing services and better link up other services to provide the best support for families and whānau.”
The package brings together initiatives across government agencies, the private sector, communities, schools, families and whānau.
Ministry of Health initiatives include:
- Childhood obesity health target – Before School Check (B4SC) referrals
- Access to nutrition and physical activity programmes for families
- Clinical guidance for weight management in New Zealand children and young people
- Guidance for healthy weight gain in pregnancy
- Gestational diabetes guidelines
- Referrals to Green Prescriptions for pregnant women (at risk of gestational diabetes)
- Health Star Rating campaign
- Marketing and advertising to children
- Partnership with industry
- Information and resources for general public
- Public awareness campaign
- Physical activity guidelines for under 5s
- Health Promoting Schools
- Healthy Families NZ
- DHB healthy food policies
- Eating and Activity Guidelines (Adults)
Dr Pat Tuohy is a specialist paediatrician with a particular interest in community child health. Pat has been the Ministry's Chief Advisor Child and Youth Health since December 1997. His responsibilities include provision of specialist child and youth health advice to the Ministry and other Government agencies, coordination and leadership of child and youth health across district health boards and child and youth health professionals and organisations.
The World Health Organization’s Draft Final Report of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity can be found on the WHO website.