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One Million Kiwis Obese

11 Jun 2013

The latest National Health Survey (December 2012) says that there are about one million adults in New Zealand who are obese. Professor Tony Blakely from the University of Otago, Wellington, has called for action on child obesity. “The most shocking inequality is the six-fold gap between the most deprived (19 per cent either obese or overweight) and least deprived (three per cent) neighbourhoods in New Zealand,” says Professor Blakely. Some of this deprivation gap in child overweight/obesity is due to Maori and Pacific children being more likely to live in poorer socio-economic conditions, and the reality is that there is a growing disparity between rich and poor neighbourhoods. This flows on to health which bodes badly for diabetes, cardiovascular and cancer inequalities in the future.

It's interesting how obesity is being linked to socioeconomic disparities and I would like to add that now more than ever it should become a Government issue. The global Burden of Disease(GBD) study has found that, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, all populations are eating more and exercising less. Obesity now kills more people worldwide than malnutrition. New Zealand is small in comparison to the US or even Australia and it yet it ranks up there among them for obesity and chronic disease.

Children’s Commissioner and Hastings paediatrician Russell Wills said a “whole-of-family intervention” was the only way to beat childhood obesity. “That means the whole family has to eat differently and the whole family has to exercise together. Some families just don’t want to or can’t – it’s like giving up smoking.”

Hawke’s Bay had changed its criteria for the Active Families programme so children aged 4 and over were eligible. Dr Wills said 4 was the perfect age to deal with such problems and make a life-long difference.

Tags: Diabetes, Diet, Exercise, Health, Lifestyle, Obesity

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