Govt’s obesity plan must put people ahead of junk-food industry profits

The Government has an opportunity with its obesity plan to put the health of New Zealanders ahead of the profits of multi-national junk food companies, the Green Party said today.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is expected to make an announcement today on tackling obesity, however there are reports that there will be no extra regulatory measures put in place around the food and drinks that are making us fat.

“Until the Government stops protecting the junk food industry at the expense of New Zealanders, the obesity crisis will keep getting worse,” said Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague.

“Encouraging kids to do an extra lap around the school field isn’t going to have any real effect if they’ve just downed a litre bottle of Coke from the tuck shop.

“It’s time that the National Government put the health of kids and other Kiwis ahead of the interests of international junk food companies.

“Parents want more regulation, and so do health experts and medical professionals – it’s only National and the junk food corporations that don’t.

“1.2 million New Zealanders are obese and that number will grow if National continues to reject regulations that prevent childhood obesity, which is closely linked to adult obesity.

“National is condemning scores of New Zealanders, as well as our already-fragile health system, to decades of dealing with preventable obesity-related illnesses like type-2 diabetes and heart disease, because it has chosen to be beholden to the junk food industry.

“We need meaningful Government action and the first step should be bringing back the food in schools guidelines that National discarded when they came into office.

“The Green Party has a comprehensive plan to combat obesity and diabetes in New Zealand, and we’re keen to work with the Government on this issue.

“At a very minimum, we should not be allowing junk food peddlers to sell sugary food and drink to our kids in our schools.

“There should also be a tax on sugar-laden drinks, to drive down consumption, with all revenue pumped back into obesity prevention and other health programmes.

“Obesity is preventable – all it requires is National to stop being so feeble,” said Mr Hague.