27 Mar 2012

Funding focus changes to maternal, newborn nutrition

9:04 pm on 27 March 2012

The Health Minister says funding will be moved in the next Budget from some nutrition and physical activity programmes to new ways to boost maternal and newborn nutrition.

Tony Ryall says the change is in response to advice from the Prime Minister's chief science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, that what happens early in life is critical in the battle against obesity and its complications.

Mr Ryall says the National government indicated before the election it would stop investment in some areas so the money could go towards new initiatives in maternal and infant nutrition education.

Mr Ryall says a range of public health programmes are being funded, including Green Prescriptions and Fruit In Schools.

He says he cannot say whether it will spell the end of the former Healthy Eating Healthy Action, or Heha, programme. The multi-million dollar programme has already been wound down.

The Paediatric Society says it applauds the new approach, which is backed by evidence and overdue.

But Diabetes New Zealand says the health of older people is also vital.