14 Aug 2011

Government working on diabetes prevention - Ryall

10:26 am on 14 August 2011

Health Minister Tony Ryall says the Government is doing a lot to combat obesity and diabetes.

A group of doctors and public health researchers say not enough is being done to prevent New Zealand's rapidly rising rates of diabetes, which they blame on increasing obesity.

The 12 specialists from hospitals and universities have proposed a range of actions, including reinstating the requirement for schools to sell only healthy food which the National-led Government canned soon after taking office.

The minister, Tony Ryall, says the Government is spending $65 million a year on health programmes and keeping people active.

In an open letter to the New Zealand Medical Journal, the medical specialists say 63% of New Zealand adults are now overweight. They expect an upcoming survey will show the average adult weight has risen by about 3kg in the past decade.

The group calls for urgent action, including a national nutrition and physical acitivity strategy and a ban on marketing junk food to children.

In a statement, Mr Ryall cited nutritional programmes such as Fruit in Schools - a scheme where children in low decile schools are encouraged to eat more fruit.

He says better diabetes and cardiovascular services make up one of the Government's six health targets.