A Maori doctor is backing a demand for more stomach stapling operations, after a New Zealand weight loss surgeon called on more government money to combat the problem.
The latest Ministry of Health figures show that one in five Maori children and almost half of Maori adults are classed as obese - disproportionately higher than other parts of the population.
Steven Kelly, a bariatric surgeon, said stomach stapling operations were effective at $20,000 each and saved money in the long run, but the Government was not providing enough of the life-saving procedures.
George Laking of Te Whakatohea said demand exceeded availability and more funding was needed.
Dr Laking said the surgery led to less chance of developing diabetes, heart disease and arthritis and created savings that hospitals would otherwise have to spend on treating those conditions.
He said while more operations were needed, it was important that society got to grips with changing people's current lifestyles to prevent surgeries having to occur in the first place.