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New mums only part of the solution

Beating up on mums-to-be is not the way to tackle New Zealand’s alarming obesity rates, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“More than a million Kiwi adults and 79,000 Kiwi kids are obese. We are the fourth fattest country in the OECD.

“Prenatal habits might be important to your child’s eating habits, but let’s not let the rest of us off the hook by targeting pregnant women.

“As the New Zealand Medical Association has pointed out tackling obesity needs to be embedded in everything, from new buildings to school classrooms.

“The food industry needs a rev up as well. There’s no reason manufacturers couldn’t already have been reducing sugar and saturated fat in process food. That shows there needs to be some very strong directives from the Government.

“One of the first things the National Government did was scrap Labour’s successful Healthy Eating-Healthy Action programme and the guidelines around junk food in school, arguing at the time it wanted to focus on maternal and new-born nutrition.

"That was six years ago. Today it’s re-inventing the wheel.

“It is unacceptable that National has taken so long to wake up to the problem. If it had prioritised prevention and early intervention we would not now be staring down the barrel of an obesity epidemic.

“This is a community wide issue and one that needs leadership from the top. Let’s not continue along the track of piece-meal, half-baked policies – and let’s not blame our new mums,” Andrew Little says.