7 Nov 2015

Labour reveals plan to tackle obesity

11:58 am on 7 November 2015

The Labour Party is pledging to make the food industry start reducing sugar content in processed food as part of a plan to tackle obesity.

Labour Deputy Leader, Annette King.

Annette King says the government's response to childhood obesity is feeble and inadequate. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The party is holding its annual conference in Palmerston North this weekend.

Labour deputy leader and health spokeswoman Annette King will give her speech to the conference this afternoon.

In it she will indicate how a Labour-led government would address New Zealand's high rates of obesity.

She said the health minister's recent announcements on obesity were feeble and inadequate and Labour was putting together an obesity framework based on evidence.

"We will put in place a childhood obesity reduction target based on Ministry of Health advice, something Jonathan Coleman ignored in favour of singling out obese children and sending them to the doctor.

"In government we will provide a clear time-frame for industry to reduce sugar content in all processed food, and there will be front of package labelling that is easy for everyone to understand."

Labour would continue to develop policy around advertising unhealthy food to children and school food requirements, Mrs King said.

It would also roll out a programme called Project Energize nationally.

"[This] started 10 years ago in Waikato and has been kept alive by a committed DHB, every school in the district, community and sports organisations.

"It has now been taken up by the Northland DHB. This programme is home-grown and has reduced the BMI of children involved which increasing their fitness."

The programme was cost effective and the Ministry of Health puts the cost at $19.5 million annually, Mrs King said.

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