Shocking disparities in child obesity now exist in New Zealand

December 13, 2012

(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."

Explore further: The cost of obesity examined

Related Stories

The cost of obesity examined

December 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 ...

Doctors and public health researchers say shocking diabetes rates can be reduced

August 12, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Leading medical specialists, public health researchers and nutritionists warn that not enough is being done to prevent the rapidly increasing diabetes rates, largely caused by significant increases in ...

Obesity study shows fat tax is not the answer

November 16, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- New research from the University of Reading suggests that a ‘fat tax' might not be the best way to tackle Britain's obesity problems.

Taxes on sugary drinks and high fat foods could improve health

December 11, 2012
Taxes on soft drinks and foods high in saturated fats and subsidies for fruit and vegetables could lead to beneficial dietary changes and potentially improve health, according to a study by experts from New Zealand published ...

Obesity is a killer in nonsmoking women

June 29, 2011
Obesity is an important contributor to premature death in women who have never smoked, especially among women in low income groups, finds research published in the British Medical Journal today.

Recommended for you

Study finds 90 percent of American men overfat

July 24, 2017
Does your waist measure more than half your height?

Are sugary drink interventions changing people's behaviour?

July 19, 2017
An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people's habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

Young adult obesity: A neglected, yet essential focus to reverse the obesity epidemic

July 18, 2017
The overall burden of the U.S. obesity epidemic continues to require new thinking. Prevention of obesity in young adults, while largely ignored as a target for prevention and study, will be critical to reversing the epidemic, ...

Weight gain from early to middle adulthood may increase risk of major chronic diseases

July 18, 2017
Cumulative weight gain over the course of early and middle adulthood may increase health risks later in life, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They found that, compared ...

Study finds children carry implicit bias towards peers who are overweight

June 23, 2017
Even children as young as 9 years old can carry a prejudice against their peers who are overweight, according to a new study led by Duke Health researchers. They might not even realize they feel this way.

Mother's obesity boosts risk for major birth defects: study

June 15, 2017
Children of obese women are more likely to be afflicted by major birth defects, including malformations of the heart and genitals, according to a study published on Thursday.

0 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.