Government launches $6m 'Feeding our Futures' programme

The Government launched today a new $6 million programme to promote children's nutrition and family dinners.

The Feeding our Futures programme, launched in Rotorua by Health Minister Pete Hodgson, aimed to give parents tips on what to feed their children and how to get them to eat healthy foods.

The programme had the support of The Obesity Action Coalition, The Cancer Society and the National Heart Foundation, the groups said in a joint statement.

Obesity Action Coalition executive director Leigh Sturgiss said although parents talking about nutrition in the home was good, it was only one front in the battle against excessive fatness.

"Government has a responsibility to develop policy frameworks that ensure responsible food advertising."

Cancer Society spokeswoman Jan Pearson said parents could not be held wholly responsible for the diet of their own children.

"We know that food and beverage advertising to children has a significant effect on their food preference, purchase requests and food consumption patterns."

Under the Health Ministry's new initiative, a series of advertisements would tell parents to eat and cook with their children and promote water and milk instead of sugar-loaded drinks.

The programme would also involve public health providers in their work with the community.

Jim Mann, from the Department of Human Nutrition and Medicine at the University of Otago, said there was considerable evidence that sugary drinks contributed to weight gain in children, and increased their risk of obesity.

Prof Mann said providing parents and caregivers with tips on accessible, practical and easy ways they can achieve healthy diets for kids is just one way of working towards healthy weight outcomes for children.

"Evidence shows that younger children have healthier diets, but as they start to get older, parents and caregivers need new strategies and ways of continuing to positively influence their children's diets.

"This campaign provides some of those strategies."

The Feeding our Futures advertising campaign would be supported by $500,000 worth of free advertising per year for the next two years provided by the New Zealand Television Broadcaster's Council as part of a voluntary agreement to improve food advertising to children.

- NZPA

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