The Ministry of Health says that child obesity in New Zealand is increasing at a critical rate.
One-third of New Zealand children aged 2-14 are at an above average body weight (with many diagnosed as obese). However, a staggering 50% of Pacific Island or Maori children have been diagnosed as such.
Overweight children are diagnosed by checking excess body weight for height verse fat, muscle, bone and water. Caused by a calorie in-balance (too few calories are used for the amount of calories consumed), a diet of rich fatty foods can lead to depression and anxiety. This is also a precursor to other major adult diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Paul Hofman of the Liggins Institute explains that he sees some of the worst cases, including teenagers who weigh between 150-200kg.
“Research shows that a mother’s weight before conception is a major predictor of a baby’s birth-weight. The excess nutrition received from their mother makes them more likely to become obese.”
Schools are playing a critical role by establishing a supportive environment to encourage healthy behaviour. Many are providing opportunities for students to learn about and practice healthy eating and physical activity.
Experts discourage overwhelming use of technology and reduced movement. Ultimately suggesting parents should encourage regular activity and healthy lifestyle habits.