NZ Under 'Obesity Crisis,' Experts Fear Obese Kiwi Children Will Continue to Rise

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By Reissa Su | June 10, 2014 4:31 PM EST

Obesity has become a huge problem in New Zealand than smoking.  According to the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA), the country has a "crisis in our hands." Experts said obesity among Kiwi children will soon become "normal."

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

According to statistics, one in five Kiwi children had become overweight. Elaine Rush, nutrition professor at AUT, believes the situation will only get worse if the numbers keep on increasing. She said Kiwi children may grow up to have diabetes and end up with the "worst quality of llife."

The latest data also showed 10,000 more children have become more overweight compared to a month earlier. But Rush believes the obesity problem can be addressed by changing the way people look at communities and food.

She said "obesity is form of malnutrition" and encouraged parents to become models for their children. Rush reminded parents to spend time with their children outdoors and go for walks as a form of exercise.

The NZMA has called for a coordinated approach to address the "obesity crisis" in New Zealand. 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.

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

The anti-obesity program will help create a health promotion workforce committed to work with high-risk communities. According to reports, 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.

The World Health Organization reported New Zealand is one of the worst countries with increasing obesity rates as a result of high fast food consumption in the world. A global study study has said New Zealand has a higher obesity rate of 66 percent compared to Australia's overall 63 percent. When combined, Australia and New Zealand have the fastest growing obesity rates than any other region in the world.

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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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