New Zealand Child Obesity Rate Rising, Melbourne Fights Obesity With Standing Classrooms

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By Reissa Su | December 19, 2013 2:16 PM EST

The increasing rate of New Zealander obese children has grown to 10,000 more based on the findings of an Auckland University research.

Prof. Boyd Swinburn of the population nutrition department at Auckland University said the New Zealand government is failing in the younger generation by not doing enough to address childhood obesity.

He added the results of the survey conducted by the Ministry of Health that nearly one in three Kiwi children are either overweight or obese. Swinburn added the figure is shocking compared to Australia's childhood obesity rate of almost one in four children.

Despite the release of the new obesity data by a leading diabetes researcher, New Zealand Health Minister Tony Ryall said he will reject measures of a "nanny state." Ryall said providing information and support to obese adults are not enough.

He believes that things will remain the same if people will not eat less and exercise more even if the government will pass laws to reduce obesity.

According to the Ministry of Health's survey in 2012, more than 1.1 million adults in New Zealand are obese. The obesity rate has increased in adults with 31 percent compared to 29 percent in 2011.  Jim Mann, human nutrition and medicine professor at Otago University, said the new obesity figures were depressing and no longer surprising. He stressed the government has failed to address the issue.

Standing Classrooms In Melbourne

In Melbourne, Australia, a school is trying to fight childhood obesity by having the world's first standing classroom. Aside from preventing idleness among children, the standing classroom also improves their learning abilities.

Height-adjustable desks have been fitted in a Grade 6 class at Mont Albert Primary School to allow students to sit or stand. The standing classroom is part of an experiment by researchers from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

Since the adjustable desks have been introduced in the classroom since October 2013, most of the students have tried standing in class. In 2014, a team of scientists will monitor the students in the standing classroom for 8 months to determine if standing can help improve their learning, memory, health and fitness. 

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