Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Education Minister Hekia Parata have welcomed the appointment of Professor Grant Schofield, as the Ministry of Education’s first Chief Education Health and Nutrition Advisor.
“Obesity is a serious issue threatening the health of young New Zealanders, which means some of our kids could end up living shorter lives than their parents,” says Dr Coleman.
“In 2014/15 11 per cent of all children aged 2-14 years were obese. The figures for Maori and Pacific children were 15 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.
“In 2015 the Government launched the 22-point Childhood Obesity Plan, making New Zealand one of few countries to have a comprehensive plan and a health target.”
This work is being supported by teaching and learning in Food and Nutrition, and Physical Activity, two of the core components of the Health and Physical Education learning area in the New Zealand Curriculum.
“Professor Schofield is one of New Zealand’s top physical activity and nutrition experts. His appointment will build a much broader and more robust approach to the work already taking place across the education sector,” says Ms Parata.
“Professor Schofield will be able to provide valuable advice around the design, integration and implementation of the curriculum to strengthen what schools are offering students in these key learning areas.”
As part of the Childhood Obesity Plan we have seen increasing numbers of schools going water-only and good progress is being made in encouraging primary schools to adopt the Health Promoting Schools programme.
A recent review by the Education Review Office found that schools were doing a good job of promoting positive attitudes to food, nutrition and physical activity.
Ms Parata says that getting good habits and positive attitudes in place while children are young sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating and exercise.
“The appointment of Professor Schofield is a further step in the right direction and I look forward to his input into how we can improve health outcomes.
“With the right knowledge, students themselves have the potential to lead healthy change in their homes and wider communities.”