WHO Cites New Zealand as One of Worst Countries with High Fast Food Purchases, Obesity Rates

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By Reissa Su | February 5, 2014 3:12 PM EST

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has cited New Zealand as one of the worst countries with increasing obesity rates and fast food consumption in the world. According to WHO's study about fast food purchases per capita, New Zealand ranks fourth out of 25 countries in terms of fast food purchases.

Reuters
Pedestrians walk across the street near Times Square in New York in this August 28 2007 file photo.

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The researchers behind the study suggest that regulating food products must be improved to help curb unhealthy eating habits. Instead of using traditional data-gathering methods for the study, researchers based the study on the number of fast food transactions per capita beginning 1999 up to 2008 in 25 wealthy countries.

The fast food transactions per capita are then compared to body mass index or BMI in countries in the same period to generate fast food consumption data.

Boyd Swinburn, Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at Auckland University remarked that New Zealand should be concerned of the study in a TVNZ report.

Professor Swinburn said New Zealand, Australia, U.S. and UK tend to be less de-regulated when it comes to food products. Northern European countries have higher levels of regulating food which help reduce fast food consumption thereby less obesity.

Mr Swinburn suggested that fast food should not be marketed to children. Many countries have policies against this practice to discourage children from eating unhealthy food. Mr Swinburn said New Zealand doesn't have the same regulation.

He also recommended that restaurants should have a calorie count on their menus to help patrons make an informed decision.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has previously announced that Australia's obesity prevention programme will be adopted in the country. The community-based program will be known as Healthy Families NZ.

Health Minister Tony Ryall visited Victoria, Australia to personally see the programme's effectiveness in curbing obesity. Mr Ryall said the children who were part of the obesity prevention programme had become more active and lost weight.  Based on what he has seen, Mr Ryall declared that Australia's community-based programme is working.

According to the Ministry of Health's health survey in 2012, more than 1.1 million adults in New Zealand are obese. The obesity rate has increased in adults with 31 per cent compared to 29 per cent in 2011. 

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(Photo: Reuters / Lucas Jackson)
Pedestrians walk across the street near Times Square in New York in this August 28 2007 file photo.
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