New Zealand Labour Party

Medical advice on obesity fails to tip scales

The Government snubbed advice from its chief child health adviser to set an obesity target in favour of soft pedalling in the interests of big business, Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson David Clark says.

“Buried in a report to Jonathan Coleman – uncovered in a Government document dump – Pat Tuohy, a specialist paediatrician and the go-to adviser for the Government on child health, recommends establishing a healthy weight target for four-year-old pre-schoolers using BMI and waist circumference as a better public services target.

“The target would have seen 75 per cent of four-year-old children at a healthy weight by 2020.

“That’s an achievable target, yet Dr Coleman seems loathe to act against the interests of wealthy corporates, omitting to include the proposal in the Government’s new obesity strategy, of which Pat Tuohy has been the professional face.

“A watered down target will see children identified as obese in the B4 School Check be referred to a health professional with no guarantee of any follow up.

“Other recommendations, including guidelines around healthy food in schools and reducing the amount of saturated fat and sugar in processed food, were also ignored.

“That all adds up to a Government that is not really committed to tackling the obesity crisis at all,” David Clark says.