Health experts to speak on improving diet

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Nutrition and physical activity experts have gathered in Rotorua this week to discuss the challenges of improving our food supply and getting New Zealanders up and moving.

The conference, with the theme It Starts With Us: Ma Matau E Timata, is being hosted by Agencies for Nutrition Action, a national body committed to improving nutrition and physical activity in New Zealand. It is being held today and tomorrow and has attracted delegates from New Zealand and Australia.

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, science adviser to the Prime Minister, will speak about the implications of what parents eat have on their children's health.

Associate Professor Rachael Taylor of the University of Otago will tell the conference that learning to feed infants differently may help ensure fewer of them become overweight or obese.

"Children learn pretty early that food is a great way to control their parents. As a parent myself, I know this is where many of the biggest battles play out in households," she said.

She will discuss how approaching food differently could prevent and manage a problem affecting as many as a third of Kiwi preschoolers.

"Studies show some parents adopt coercive behaviours when feeding their kids. They use it to reward good behaviour or take it away as a punishment," she said.

"In this way, parents might be inadvertently using feeding practices that impair a child's ability to manage food."

Paediatrician Dr Teuila Percival will discuss the increasing levels of obesity and obesity-related diseases among Pacific people in New Zealand - both adults and children.

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