NZ Obese Children to Benefit From $40M Program For 'Healthier Families'

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By Reissa Su | May 27, 2014 5:36 PM EST

New Zealand kids fighting obesity will benefit from the $40 million budget announced by Health Minister Tony Ryall. The country encourages families to live healthy and enjoy active lives, according to a press release.

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

In a statement, Ryall said New Zealand's budget has allocated $40 million to be used for the new Healthy Families NZ anti-obesity program to benefit 900,000 Kiwis. He added the anti-obesity initiative will be a "complete reform" to address the underlying causes of poor health such as smoking, excessive drinking and obesity.

Ryall noted Healthy Families NZ is one of the few anti-obesity programs that are bound to work. The statement cited resources were often spread thinly across New Zealand. The anti-obesity program will help create a health promotion workforce committed to work with high-risk communities.

The government plans to roll out the new program in October 2014 to 10 communities, namely: East Cape, Invercargill, Whanganui, Waitakere, Far North District, Lower Hutt, Manukau, Rotorua, Spreydone-Heathcote and Manurewa-Papakura.

Ryall said a local provider will be in-charge of the program in each community and will recruit dedicated health promotion workers to be assigned in early childhood centers, schools, work places and sports clubs to help people make healthy choices.

According to reports, Healthy Families NZ is a program based on Australia's Healthy Together Victoria, a highly successful anti-obesity program.

As a result of Victoria's initiative, children between four and 12 years old have lost 1 kilogram with smaller waistline, according to TVNZ. They can also outrun children from other towns. Ryall visited Victoria, Australia to personally see the program's effectiveness in curbing obesity.

Auckland University's nutrition Prof. Boyd Swinburn said Healthy Families NZ is great news but there is a need to establish tough guidelines and regulations. He has previously released the findings of a study which revealed an increase in the obesity rate among New Zealand children.

The increasing rate of the country's obese children has grown to 10,000 based on the findings of an Auckland University research. Swinburn 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 of the three Kiwi children is either overweight or obese.

Swinburn noted the figure was shocking compared to Australia's childhood obesity rate of almost one in four children 

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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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