World Obesity Day is observed globally on 11 October to promote practical solutions to end the global obesity crisis. It is organised by the World Obesity Federation, which represents professional members of the scientific, medical and research communities from over 50 regional and national obesity associations.
The federation’s mission is to lead and drive global efforts to prevent, reduce and treat obesity. The first World Obesity Day took place in 2015.
This year the federation is calling on all governments, health service providers, insurers and philanthropic organisations to prioritise investment in tackling obesity. The federation says this means investing in obesity treatment services, early intervention and prevention.
Obesity is a critical health challenge for New Zealand. One in three adults are obese and one in nine children are obese. The rate for children is one of the highest in the OECD. The rates are higher for Māori children (15%) and Pacific children (30%). Childhood obesity can have serious long-term effects on a person’s health and wellbeing. It can lead to other chronic health conditions such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
New Zealand has a 22-initiative Childhood Obesity Plan launched in 2015 involving government, the private sector, communities, schools and families. At the centre of this plan is the Raising Healthy Kids health target, making New Zealand one of few countries in the OECD to have a plan and target.
The health target came into effect in July 2016. It aims to have 95 percent of children identified in a B4 School Check as obese being offered a referral for a clinical assessment and family-based nutrition, activity and lifestyle interventions by December 2017.
The Ministry of Health’s role in the Childhood Obesity Plan includes offering guidance for the public on healthy eating and regular physical activity, funding initiatives such as Green Prescriptions, Health Promoting Schools and Healthy Families NZ, and partnering with government agencies that are also contributing to the plan.
Through its guidelines, the Ministry encourages New Zealanders to:
- make healthy food and activity choices
- learn more about healthy eating
- get active every day and
- get high quality sleep.
With daylight savings now in full swing, there are more daylight hours to get active. One such fun activity is the Aotearoa mini Bike Challenge being held October 16-29, which involves just 10 minutes of cycling as a minimum.
And the Health Promotion Agency has links to some easy, fast and affordable food ideas.
It’s worth reflecting that World Obesity Day is being held during Mental Health Awareness Week. Its theme is Nature is Key – unlock your wellbeing. By choosing to be more active, or eating healthily in a natural environment, there is an amplification effect for wellbeing – be it throwing a Frisbee in a park or having a picnic with friends or family.