Shocking disparities in child obesity now exist in New Zealand

(Medical Xpress)—Public health researcher Professor Tony Blakely from the University of Otago, Wellington says the time for prevaricating about obesity is over with the release of latest child obesity figures by the Ministry of Health.

"I'm used to researching inequalities in in New Zealand," says Professor Tony Blakely, "but I'm shocked by the latest figures on which show an increase rates from 8% in 2006/7 to 11% in 2011/12, and in particular the extreme inequalities that we now have in New Zealand. 

Combining obesity and overweight categories, 17% and 23% of Māori and Pacific children now fall in this grouping, compared to 7% and 6% of European and Asian children.

"But perhaps the most shocking is the six-fold gap between the most deprived (19% either obese or overweight) and least deprived (3%) neighbourhoods in New Zealand," he says. 

Some of this deprivation gap in child overweight/obesity is due to Māori and Pacific children being more likely to live in deprived areas, but the reality is that we now have extreme inequalities between rich and . Not only does this create disparities in health now, but it bodes badly for diabetes, cardiovascular and cancer inequalities in the future if action is not taken.

Actions needed include:

  • Banning all junk food advertising during children's TV viewing hours
  • Making sugar-free drinks the norm, not high sugar soft-drinks, through regulation, taxes and the industry stumping up to its responsibilities
  • Ensuring schools and other provide healthy food
  • Making healthy food the easy option for all New Zealanders, through subsidies or removing GST on fruit and vegetables combined with possible taxes on fatty and .

"Other aspects of the latest health survey results are encouraging," says Professor Blakely.

"Reductions in youth smoking are welcomed, but more modest gains in adult smoking reinforce the need for more concerted tobacco policy to extend and reinforce recent tax increases."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The cost of obesity examined

Dec 11, 2012

Researchers from The University of Auckland have announced the results of a recent study showing that overweight and obesity in New Zealand costs the country between NZ$722 million and NZ$849 million a year in health care ...

Advertising Child's Play

Dec 10, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Children on their way to school are five times more likely to see the advertising of soft drinks, alcohol, ice-cream and confectionary than ads for healthy foods.

Recommended for you

Weight stigma a daily experience for obese people

12 hours ago

Overweight and obese people experience many more episodes of being stigmatised in their everyday lives than was realised, with most suffering almost daily negative treatment, a UNSW-led study shows.

Berberine compound may play role in treating obesity

12 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Weight-gain warnings are especially uncomfortable during holiday seasons with all the oversized and double helpings of calorie-rich pies, creamy dips and savory holiday stuffings. Nonetheless, ...

Expanding waistlines weigh heavy on Malaysia

14 hours ago

Malaysians have a passionate love affair with their lip-smacking cuisine—rich curries, succulent fried chicken, buttery breads and creamy drinks—but it is increasingly an unhealthy relationship.

Obese children burdened by more than weight

Nov 24, 2014

High blood pressure and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are two emerging health problems related to the epidemic of childhood obesity. In a recent study, researchers at University of California, ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.