In a major policy briefing released today, the New Zealand
Medical Association recommends a suite of measures to be considered
as part of an approach to tackling New Zealand's obesity
NZMA Chair Dr Mark Peterson says obesity and its related
complications are potentially the greatest public health threat we
face over the next decade.
Such a significant risk to the health of the New Zealand
population must be of concern to doctors, he says. "Our commitment
to the health of our patients means we must individually and
collectively do as much as we can to influence this epidemic.
"Central to these measures will be countering the obesogenic
environment and improving health literacy. We believe that
government is in the best position to implement an integrated
response to the obesity epidemic via a combination of legislative,
regulatory and policy levers."
The briefing-Tackling Obesity-is a
major piece of work for the Association, with several months'
research into the latest evidence on both the harms associated with
obesity and on the successful ways in which it is being addressed
in other countries.
Along with obvious complications such as Type 2 diabetes and
heart disease, obesity is a factor in certain types of cancers, and
a host of other conditions such as osteoarthritis, gallstones,
gynaecological disorders, sleep apnoea and depression.
"Obesity is also a significant equity issue," says Dr Peterson,
"with children living in the most deprived areas three times more
likely to be obese than children who live in the least deprived
areas. There are also significant ethnic disparities, with Māori
and Pasifika being over represented in obesity statistics, along
with Asian and Indian ethnic groups."
In Tackling Obesity, the NZMA makes a
number of recommendations that require a whole-of-government and a
"Influencing the 'obesogenic' environment our patients face
every day is the role of all doctor organisations, and NZMA intends
to lead this," says Dr Peterson. "We would encourage other
organisations to support us. We must aim to make the healthy choice
the easy choice."
Tackling Obesity is available
on the NZMA's website.