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Govt announces new childhood obesity plan

Frances Cook ,
Publish Date
Mon, 19 Oct 2015, 4:21pm
(Getty Images)

Govt announces new childhood obesity plan

Frances Cook ,
Publish Date
Mon, 19 Oct 2015, 4:21pm

UPDATED 2.26pm: A sugar tax and a tax on sugary drinks are off the table as the Government announces a suite of new anti-obesity measures.

LISTEN ABOVE: Health Minister Jonathan Coleman joins Larry Williams to discuss these recently announced plans to change childhood obesity rates.

Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman said a sugar tax won't be implemented.

He said to impose a tax that would cover sugar in every type of food sold in New Zealand would be unworkable.

Dr Coleman said the evidence on taxing soft drinks is inconclusive.

"They've done some work in Mexico on this, they had a nine percent tax. That showed a decrease in sales, but they weren't clear if that was just a correlation or if there was direct causation."

Dr Coleman said further research on this is being done with results to be reported in late 2017.

The health package covers everything from increasing physical activity, food labelling, and support through pregnancy.

When a child's about to start school they'll be checked to see if they're at risk of obesity, with the whole family possibly getting access to nutrition and physical activity programmes.

The plan notes that children's food choices are strongly influenced by advertising, but the changes aren't as big there.

The code for advertising to children will be reviewed, while discussions are currently being held on voluntary changes the food and beverage industry could make.

Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman said no single strategy will fix the problem and that's why they've developed a range of interventions.

They include targeted interventions for the obese, more support for those deemed at risk of becoming obese, and broad strategies to make healthier choices easier.

Dr Coleman said from December 2017, 95 percent of children identified as obese on B4 school checks will be referred to health professionals for clinical assessment and interventions.



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