Source: Healthy Auckland Together coalition, 4 May
Auckland's pre-schoolers seem to be keeping weight off in larger
numbers, bucking the adult trend, according to the latest research
from the Healthy Auckland Together coalition.
The monitoring report on the city's obesity rates shows the
percentage of obese and overweight four year olds dropped to 20 per
cent from 22 per cent in the previous year.
Almost 80,000 Auckland children were weighed at before school
checks in 2015, with the gap in obesity rates closing between
Maori, Pacific Island and European/Other children.
This decline has continued for a second consecutive year, even
though the report also shows the effects of too much sugar in
children's diets, and that many were less physically active.
Coalition spokesperson Dr Michael Hale says looking at what is
happening in schools, early childhood education centres and
neighbourhoods would help identify why Auckland is seeing this
"We need to find if this trend is a pre-school blip that
reverses as children get older," he says.
The research found that fewer 5 - 14 year olds are biking or
walking to school than in previous years. "We also know that
children are more attached to screens from seven years onwards, and
more exposed to bad food around schools. Without the benefit of
more in-depth research, we are just speculating on the reasons at
"An update of the 2002 national nutrition survey of children
would fill in the gaps. Measuring the quality of school practices
around food, physical education and active play would tell us what
goes on where children spend a large chunk of their day.
"Something positive is happening for pre-schoolers, but not
being able to identify the causes makes it difficult to push for
change to achieve the same result for older children," Dr Hale
In the last year, the percentage of Aucklanders over 18 who are
overweight and obese has risen to over 61 percent or three out of
five of residents. Most adults are still not being active enough,
or eating the minimum quantities of fruit and vegetables to keep
"It is so easy for adults to put on weight, and this is
exacerbated by environments that encourage sitting at work, in the
car and at leisure, and poor quality snacking and meals out as
The research looked at how many people get to work without a
car, and while this is climbing, it's off a very low base.
"There's been an additional half a million public transport
trips last year and this will get easier, with record levels of
investment in walking and cycling infrastructure by New Zealand
Transport Authority, Auckland Transport and Auckland Council," Dr
The Healthy Auckland Together Monitoring Report findings
- A continuation of the slow rise in adult obesity to 27.8
percent, matching the ongoing rise in New Zealand obesity
prevalence, and mirroring overseas trends
- The 43 percent of all adults meeting the physical activity
guidelines hasn't changed over the last year, except for a four
percent increase amongst Pacific Island women. Women have lower
levels of physical activity than men, and higher rates of obesity,
except for Asian women.
- There's been a drop in the number of 5 - 14 years olds getting
themselves to school by bike, scooter, skateboard or foot.
- The number of missing, filled or decayed teeth in five years
olds remains persistently high, with the highest amongst Pacific
Island and then Maori children. This implies a high intake of
sugary food and drink.
- The coalition found 39 percent of Aucklanders had a suburb
park within five minutes' walk and 80 per cent had similar access
to a neighbourhood park. Auckland Council has a new Open Space
Provision Policy to improve park access and quality over the next
- There is a continuing year-on-year increase in public
transport use to 4.55 trips per person, per month.
Healthy Auckland Together has a five year plan to improve the
city's food, urban, school, work and transport environments so
these all contribute to Aucklanders' health.