Govt out of step with PM's science advisor on childhood obesity


The Government’s hands-off approach to childhood obesity is out of step with the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor who, in another role, recommends a ban on the marketing of junk food to kids, a ban on junk food at schools, and has given the thumbs up to a tax on fizzy drinks, the Green Party says.

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, is also Co-chair of the World Health Authority’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, which put out an interim report yesterday making widespread recommendations to global organisations.

“The Commission’s recommendations show the National Government is way out of step with the expert evidence around ending childhood obesity, and are much more in line with Green Party policy,” Green Party Health spokesman Kevin Hague said.

“Kiwi kids are the third most overweight in the world. Our kids need the Government to back what’s good for them, over the interests of the junk food industry.

“The Prime Minister should listen to the advice of the experts, including his own Chief Science Advisor, and look at measures that are actually effective at reducing childhood obesity such as bans on marketing and advertising of junk food to kids, and ensuring schools are junk-free zones.

“It’s time for the National Government to be brave and stand up to the junk food industry and take the steps that are needed to keep New Zealand children healthy.

“Obesity cost New Zealand over $700 million in healthcare and lost productivity in 2006.

“The Commission’s report is the latest in a long line of reports and studies proving that the Government’s hands off approach to obesity is not working.

“The Government has ruled out the Green Party’s idea of a tax on sugary drinks as unworkable, when the Commission says it’s well worth considering. The National Government has maintained that marketing codes need to be voluntary, where the Commission says they don’t work unless they’re compulsory, and National ministers have stood in the way of every attempt to get junk food out of schools.

“The Prime Minster said he appointed a science advisor so that his decisions can be guided by evidence. Now’s the time to listen to the evidence and take some simple steps that will really make a difference for our kids,” Mr Hague said.

Link to the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity interim report: