9 June 2014
Obesity worse than smoking for health impacts on
The NZ College of Public Health Medicine is backing the New
Zealand Medical Association's call for more urgent and coordinated
action on the country's obesity time bomb, claiming it will soon be
a bigger problem than smoking.
With two thirds of adults and one third of children either
overweight or obese, the College says that New Zealand is on track
for obesity to overtake tobacco as the leading cause of health loss
"We can't afford to overlook the severity and long-term
ramifications of this issue and how it will affect children as they
grow and develop," says College president Dr Julia Peters.
"What is needed is a comprehensive approach including
legislative and regulatory controls, similar to that which has been
applied to smoking over the last 30 years."
Programmes designed to address the issue need to focus on
prevention, particularly amongst children and communities in which
the epidemic is most profound. We need to be "making the healthy
choice the easy choice."
Fortunately, we have lessons from our success with tobacco
control that can be applied to the obesity issue and also some
examples of successful community based programmes. However, as a
society, we need to galvanise around a long term, comprehensive
"This problem has crept up on us over 40 years and it is
not going to go away overnight. A good place to start is the
list of recommendations from the New Zealand Medical Association"
said Dr Peters.
For more information contact Dr Julia Peters 022 054 2315