Drop in Kiwi childhood obesity

  • 05/01/2018

New Zealand is turning the tide against child obesity.

Research has found a 2.2 percent decrease in the number of overweight four-year-olds between 2010 and 2016.

Auckland University's professor of population nutrition and global health Boyd Swinburn says it's a trend to be proud of.

"We now have about five years of data so we can be sure that this is a true trend, and this is essentially New Zealand catching up with the rest of the Western world."

The data, collected from 317,000 children, also found the decline was across the board for gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic groups.

Prof Swinburn hopes the trend continues when the children enter the primary school environment.

"They're highly dependent on their parents, on the daycare centre for feeding them. Two decades of messages coming across in the media is having an effect."

But the decrease is only small, and there's a long way to go to reverse decades of growing obesity.

"One in three children is overweight or obese, and that compares with Australia, where it's one in four. They also have children at school level coming down - New Zealand is still going up or flattening off."

New Zealand as a whole is the third-most obese nation in the world. About 30.7 percent of adults in this country are classified as obese - up from 26.5 percent in 2007.

The USA is ranked first with a 38.2 percent adult obesity rate, and Mexico is second at 32.4 percent.

The previous Government refused to implement sugar taxes, saying there was little evidence they work.

NZN / Newshub.