Ireland leads New Zealand in the battle against obesity

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 | Kate Sloane | 2 Comments

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Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu

Editor note: This blog was prepared by Prof Cliona Ni Mhurchu whilst she was visiting her home-country, Ireland. Cliona sent an email to myself and other Kiwis during that time outlining the strong actions that the Irish Government is planning on obesity and food – a far cry from the state of play in New Zealand. Which has led to this blog, in which Cliona makes the head-to-head comparison on food and obesity policy (in)activity between Ireland and New Zealand. Tony Blakely.

In the last couple of years the Irish rugby team gave the All Blacks cause to sit up and take notice not just once but twice. The first occasion was during the 2nd test match in 2012 where the ABs narrowly won with a drop kick minutes before the end, and the second was late last year in Dublin when the ABs won by a margin of just 2 points. Optimistic Irish rugby fans are increasingly convinced that the day will come when Ireland will beat New Zealand at its own game.

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Improving the health of our children: Project Energize bang for the health $

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 | Kate Sloane | No Comments

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[Editor note, Blakely and Wilson: This is an invited blog by Professor Elaine Rush, in which she overviews the recent Budget from a child health perspective, and then lays out the case and evidence for Project Energize].

Professor Elaine Rush, AUT

The highlight of the 2014 Budget for children was $90 million to make GP visits and prescriptions free for children aged under 13 from 1 July 2015. There was also $40 million for a new Healthy Families NZ campaign to encourage New Zealanders to eat healthier and exercise more. This is modelled on the Australian Health Together Victoria Programme which encompasses more than schools and is a systems approach. This is needed too – we need to work upstream, downstream and with communities. We also need to have evaluations to show that this type of investment is working – accountability for the money that the government and agencies charged to invest in New Zealand for the people. Continue reading

Action needed to halt New Zealand’s obesity epidemic: Themes from Big Food Symposium

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 | Kate Sloane | 1 Comment

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Associate Professor Louise Signal

International and national public health experts and delegates met on Monday this week to consider how to address New Zealand’s (NZ’s) increasing obesity epidemic. While they welcome the new Healthy Families NZ community-based initiative recently announced by the Minister of Health, they stress the critical need to focus on upstream policies to prevent obesity as well. Evidence-based policy options identified include: banning junk food marketing to children, introducing a tax on fizzy drinks, introducing easy to understand nutrition labels on foods, and ensuring families can afford to eat a healthy diet. Without supplementing community action with such upstream policy action, the experts at this Big Food Symposium believe obesity rates will stay high and possibly continue to climb. This blog explores some of these issues in more detail. Continue reading

Obesity at last on Government agenda, but will Healthy Families NZ be good enough ?

Friday, February 7th, 2014 | Kate Sloane | 1 Comment

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Professor Boyd Swinburn, Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health, University of Auckland, and, Co-Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University

The Government announced the Healthy Families NZ initiative to tackle our escalating obesity crisis. It will be based on Healthy Together Victoria (HTV) which the Health Minister, Tony Ryall, visited on a recent trip to Australia. Although no details are available, it is pertinent to ask – what is HTV, how could it be adapted for New Zealand, and will it work?

The launch of Healthy Together Victoria: Victorian Minister for Health, Hon David Davis, Prof Boyd Swinburn, Dr Alan Shiell, CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Innovation and Prevention Systems which is evaluating HTV.

The launch of Healthy Together Victoria: Victorian Minister for Health, Hon David Davis, Prof Boyd Swinburn, Dr Alan Shiell, CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Innovation and Prevention Systems which is evaluating HTV.

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