Kiwi teenage mum speaks at Geneva health summit

Kiwi teenage mum speaks at Geneva health summit

A teenage mum from Pokeno has been asked to speak alongside politicians at a health summit in Geneva.

The 19-year-old caught the attention of World Health Organisation officials while speaking in south Auckland about childhood obesity.

Jasmine Crosbie is no ordinary teenager -- she's a mother, a partner and soon she'll be the special speaker at the World Health Organisation event in Geneva.

Every day while attending classes at James Cook High School's teen parenting unit, she would watch other teenagers eat their way towards obesity.

"They bring back fried chicken; they bring back chips, pies -- lots of food like that. Or they'll go across to the supermarket and bring back cheap fizzy drinks. They never really brought back big bottles of water. That didn't happen," says Ms Crosbie.

As part of the teen parenting classes, she attended a youth forum organised by the Liggins Institute last year. She was spotted speaking there about obesity in young people by World Health Organisation staff, who then invited her to Geneva to push her message.

"Students all need to learn about the societal effects of diabetes in maybe social studies, and then maybe it needs to be brought into science, where they can learn about the diseases. It really needs to be embedded into the school curriculum," says Ms Crosbie.

Obesity among children in New Zealand is getting worse. According to the Ministry of Health, the child obesity rate has gone from 8 percent in 2007 to 11 percent last year, while another 22 percent of children are overweight.

Children living in so-called "deprived" areas are five times more likely to be obese.

Ms Crosbie will have 10 minutes to address more than 200 people at the event, known as the World Health Assembly. She's the only young person of three speakers. The other two are politicians from Ghana and Mexico.

She flies out tomorrow with her son, Luka, and partner Josh for the summit, which takes place between May 23 and 28.