Child obesity in New Zealand

With child obesity rates falling for Auckland based pre-schoolers, the Heart Foundation is celebrating the success of its Healthy Heart Award, which targets early learning services.

The Healthy Auckland Together coalition recently released a monitoring reporting which highlighted a drop in the child obesity rates for Auckland pre-schoolers over the last six months. The Heart Foundation has a focus of working with early learning services and the uptake of the Healthy Heart Award programme in Auckland has coincidentally increased from 247 to 287 centres during the same time period. 

“It’s great for us to be able to contribute to the downward child-obesity trend by supporting early learning services to create healthy environments, there is some good evidence that if children can get into positive habits early in life they are more likely to be healthier later on," says Heart Foundation North Nutrition Advisor Manager, Branko Cvjetan commented;

“Key ways to create a supportive environment in a centre include having policies on food and physical activity, consistent messages to parents and children and the provision of healthy food options.

“Disappointingly the percentage of adult Aucklanders who are overweight and obese looks like it's slowly increasing, while there is a decrease in the number of children aged 5-14 years who use active transport to get to school. More research is needed to investigate the reasons for these results.”

The Healthy Heart Award is a free programme funded by the Ministry of Health which supports early learning services to create an environment that promotes healthy eating and physical activity.

Participating centres receive one-to-one support from a Nutrition Advisor, access to a range of resources and professional development workshops for staff.  A team of 21 Heart Foundation Nutrition Advisors work alongside education providers throughout New Zealand to deliver programmes to schools and early learning services.

To find out more about Heart Foundation programmes in early learning services and schools visit learnbyheart.org.nz