Plans to combat obesity in NZ underway

  • 06/09/2015

The Ministry of Health has been working on a plan to combat obesity which will go to cabinet in the next few weeks, according to the government's chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman.

"That makes New Zealand one of the few countries that's actually bothering to get together and make a plan," he told TVNZ's Q&A programme today.

He says it's important to have an integrated plan but it will take time to see how effective it will be.

Sir Peter is part of the World Health Organisation's Commission to end Childhood Obesity which will release a final report by the end of the year.

He says governments around the world are only now coming to realise the extent of the problem of childhood obesity.

He says evidence that food taxes work is weak but such taxes do send signals, and he says education can make a big different.

Governments have an important role in empowering people to make good choices about food.

He says one of the things that will come through the work he is doing with the WHO is that the private sector can have a large role in reducing obesity.

"Industry is already starting to reduce sugar levels, salt levels and so forth in food," he said.

The layout of food in supermarkets and the role of health insurers are also important issues.