The Government’s plan to curb childhood obesity is largely a rehash of existing programmes and offers very little to reduce the attraction of junk food.
Green Party Health Spokesperson Kevin Hague says that real behaviour change happens when the environment changes that encourages unhealthy behaviour. The Government’s announced initiatives takes the easy way out by blaming individuals, while too many of us have the same problem.
“Like the alcohol and tobacco industries, the junk food industry won't voluntarily sell less of its products, so we need to use smarter measures like regulations and taxes to encourage people to change their behaviour,” says Mr Hague.
“Smoking rates reduce every time the price of tobacco increases. The same will be true of sugary drinks.
“It’s clear from this pathetic attempt that National is too scared to do something meaningful to tackle the real problem through fear of annoying huge junk food companies.
“The one new idea in the plan, referrals of children to a health professional, means that that almost a third of all school children will undergo this referral. This is a massive cost and will be extremely time-intensive when far smarter options are available.”
“The Public Service had done most of the work in this space but this National Government sabotaged that work when it cut the Healthy Eating, Healthy Action plan.
“All evidence shows it is the environments, not the individual, who needs to be targeted.
“Even the Government’s chief science advisor to the Prime Minister, Sir Peter Gluckman has been responsible for a report recommending that sugary drinks be taxed. The Government has conveniently ignored something that would impact on large corporates. Why bother having Sir Peter’s expertise on hand if you’re just going to ignore the hard parts?”