Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says $2.1 million over two years will be pumped into selected DHBs to help families support their children’s healthy growth and development.
“Childhood obesity can have serious long-term effects on a person’s health and wellbeing as they age. As a result some of our kids could end up living shorter lives than their parents,” says Dr Coleman.
In 2015 the Government launched the 22-initiative Childhood Obesity Plan. At the centre of this Plan is the Raising Healthy Kids health target, making New Zealand one of few countries in the OECD to have a plan and target.
The health target came into effect in July 2016 and aims to have 95 per cent of children identified in a B4 School Check as obese, being offered a referral for a clinical assessment and family-based nutrition, activity and lifestyle interventions by December 2017.
“We’ve identified ten DHBs which have a higher proportion of children who are obese, and need some additional assistance to offer interventions and support to more families,” says Dr Coleman.
“These are often difficult conversations for health professionals to have with families, with many not realising their child’s weight is an issue.
“Key outcomes will include ensuring that families are aware of the small changes they can make which are known to have a hugely positive impact on a child’s health and development.
“These include the importance of healthy eating, being active, reducing screen time and getting enough quality sleep.”
The $2.1 million will be shared between Northland, Waitemata, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Waikato, Tairawhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Capital & Coast, Hutt, and Canterbury.
“Good progress nationally is being made against the Raising Healthy Kids health target,” says Dr Coleman.
“In quarter three, 86 per cent of children identified as being obese were offered a referral, up from 49 per cent in quarter one.
“This means across the country in quarter three, caregivers of 1,886 four-year-olds identified as obese have been offered a referral to a health professional for a clinical assessment and for advice on nutrition, activity and lifestyle.”
Further information about the target and the plan is available on the Ministry’s website, http://www.health.govt.nz