Work continues to reduce childhood obesity Thursday, 20 October 2016

Source: New Zealand Government, 20 October 2016

This week marks one year on since the launch of the Childhood Obesity Plan, and Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says good progress is being made.

"Obesity is a serious issue threatening the health of young New Zealanders,which means some of our kids could end up living shorter lives than their parents," says Dr Coleman.

"In 2014/15 11 per cent of all children aged 2-14 years were obese. The figures for Maori and Pacific children were 15 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

"The Childhood Obesity Plan includes improved public information and resources; initiatives aimed at increasing physical activity and making health food choices, actions for the health sector, as well as the food and beverage industry.

"At the core of the Plan is the new Raising Healthy Kids health target which was introduced on 1 July 2016. The aim is to have 95 per cent of children identified as obese in the B4 School Check referred to an appropriate health professional for family based nutrition, activity and lifestyle interventions.

"Another important component of the comprehensive Plan is the Advertising Standards Authority's review of the Children's Codes which has been released today.

"The major code change is an explicit restriction on advertising occasional food and beverage products to children. The changes also include a special care for young people aged 14 to 18 years, which was previously included in the Code for Advertising Food to adults.

"The Plan also signalled our intention to work with industry in addressing this issue.

"Today food and beverage industry groups committed to developing solutions to reduce childhood obesity through an industry wide pledge. Some have also made specific pledges to make reformulation, advertising and labelling changes.

"I welcome the pledges which has been developed by the Ministry of Health and the sector. Industry will report back on their progress in a year's time.

"Although there is no single solution that will fix obesity, good progress is being made. There is always more that can be done and this issue remains a priority for the Government."

Further achievements to date:

• The Education Review Office is finalising a report on the current status of food, nutrition and physicalactivity in schools and early learning services.

• We know children in the most deprived areas are three times as likely to be obese. The Plan includesa target of signing up 150 new decile 1 - 4 primary schools to the Health Promoting Schoolsprogramme over two years. To date, 219 new decile 1-4 primary and intermediate schools havesigned up, 46 per cent above the target.

• The Ministries of Education and Health are working together to encourage schools to become water    and milk only.

• Sport New Zealand's Play.Sport initiative is being piloted by 34 schools in Upper Hutt and Waitakere.

• Healthy Families NZ is operating in ten locations across the country.

• The Ministry of Health has released new guidelines for eating and activity for adults, guidance forhealthy weight gain in pregnancy and guidance on gestational diabetes to support health professionalsand the public to make healthier choices.

• All DHBs have become sugar-sweetened beverage free and are working toward implementingHealthy Food and Drink Policies.

  • The Health Star Rating continues to expand and is now on more than 2,000 products.

Further information on the Childhood Obesity Plan is available here and more information on the industry pledge is available here. A copy of the Advertising Standards Authority's review is available here.