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Being overweight or obese is expected to overtake tobacco as the leading preventable health risk in New Zealand within the next 12 months.

That’s why tackling obesity is a priority for this Government. Our plan focuses on children, as evidence shows that’s where we can have the greatest impact.

The Childhood Obesity Plan involves 22 initiatives grouped into three themes: targeted interventions for those who are obese; increased support for those at risk of becoming obese; and broad strategies for making healthier choices easier.

At the centre of the plan is a new childhood obesity health target which will come into force from 1 July 2016. Under the target, 95 per cent of children identified as obese in the B4 School Check will be referred to a health professional for assessment and family based nutrition, activity, and lifestyle interventions.

The B4 School Check is a free health and development check for four-year-olds. The checks aim to identify and address any health, behavioural, social or developmental concerns which could affect a child’s ability to get the most benefit from school.

Other initiatives in the plan include access to nutrition and physical activities programmes for families, guidance for healthy weight gain in pregnancy, and referrals for woman at risk of gestational diabetes. Government will also work with industry on what role they can play in tackling the problem.

Our plan will improve public information and resources around healthy lifestyle choices and increasing physical activity, led by Sport NZ and the Ministry of Education.

There is no single solution that will fix obesity. That’s why we have developed a range of interventions across Government, the private sector, communities, schools and families. More community programmes will be rolled out and existing ones, such as Healthy Families NZ, will be enhanced so they provide nutrition advice and activity support to those who need it most.

New Zealand is now one of the first countries in the OECD to have a national health target and a plan.

Childhood obesity is a serious issue which means some of our kids could end up living shorter lives than their parents. National is committed to improving outcomes for those young New Zealanders at risk so they live longer, healthier lives.

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