Obesity report to target emphasis on food education

8 September 2015

An impending report on childhood obesity will point to the need for a stronger emphasis on food education in schools, according Sir Peter Gluckman. The WHO report is due out in the next few weeks and could coincide with a Health Ministry report to Cabinet on an integrated plan to tackle obesity.

Sir Peter, the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor, is co-chair of the World Health Organisation’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. He said the commission sees the compulsory education years “as a critical part in which we can give people knowledge … about making the right choices around their lifestyle.”

He told TVNZ’s Q+A programme there was a need to re-think physical education and make it inclusive during the compulsory education years.

He said one of the things that will come through in the report is that there has been a tendency to marginalise the potential of the private sector to have an important productive role in the obesity debate.

“There is growing evidence that government-encouraged accords with industry can have a major part to play in reducing this issue.”

In the interview, Sir Peter says there is no magic bullet to solving the obesity epidemic and that the evidence around food taxes is “very weak”, other than to send a signal about what food is healthy and what is not.

“We need an integrated package – creating a healthy environment, healthy information, empowering people to make better choices.”

See the full interview here.