Childhood obesity and the rise of Type 2 diabetes make headlines every day, but rugby league legend Monty Betham is doing his bit to tackle the problem head-on.
Betham and his sister Chante Betham-Spencer have founded the Steps for Life Foundation to help young people and their families to live active, healthy lives.
Sound like an enormous challenge? It is. TV3's Paula Penfold followed Betham on one of his 12-week programmes providing fitness and nutritional advice to overweight teens and their families. She has recorded the outcome for 60 Minutes on Sunday.
"I think of how I could have gone down that track of over-eating, too, if I hadn't found sport," Betham told The Diary.
He says his programmes are about fighting obesity and finding self-esteem. "If you look good, you feel good, you do good."
Betham's role is voluntary - he gives up his time for free. His 12-week programme costs $60, and corporate sponsorship assists with some costs.
Penfold told The Diary that watching Betham motivate the children and their families into changing their lifestyles was a moving experience. "We were blown away when we were filming Monty with those kids. He genuinely cares about them and he knows when to be good cop and bad cop."
Betham says it's a balance between providing upbeat motivation and stern pressure. "Sometimes I bust my head against the wall. These kids start with every excuse to self-sabotage it. The parents are more to blame sometimes than the kids. That's why it's vital to have buy-in from the families if we are to make a real difference."
On average, he says, most come away from his programmes 10kg lighter and brimming with self-confidence.
Betham's aim is to expand the model. "I'd like to see these programmes roll out throughout the whole of the country."
TV HUNTER PUTS JUDGING SKILL TO THE TEST
She was known for her sexy swimsuit poses and now Rachel Hunter is making a name for herself as a reality television show judge.
Hunter, who will take the reins of the judging panel on New Zealand's Got Talent airing on September 14, is also putting her judging skills to the test to find America's next drag superstar.
She joins judges including Kelly Osbourne and Rosie Perez on RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race.
As she took to the sea this week in California with sister Jacqui, tickets to her Ladies Night tour around the South Island were selling out. Hunter will offer fashion and beauty advice at the glamour events. The girl from Glenfield will bring a little dose of Hollywood to Blenheim, Oamaru, Ashburton, Christchurch, Alexandra, Balclutha and Timaru. Alas, Richmond and Invercargill shows have already sold out.
SPARTACUS STAR HELPS ITI'S APPEAL
He's used to battling in the arena, but Spartacus star Manu Bennett took on another challenge this week. He was the highest bidder in an art auction to raise funds for the costs of the Appeal Court hearing for Tame Iti and Rangi Kemara, who were jailed as a result of the Urewera raids.
Bennett paid $10,400 for Shane Cotton's Land of Names. He also bought Iti's artwork, Te Whai A Te Motu, painted in Waikeria Prison.
"Manu purchased a lot of works and spent a lot of money," said Ninakaye Taanetinorau, who helped organise the auction at Bizdojo Gallery on K Rd. Nearly $80,000 was raised.
Meanwhile, Spartacus co-star Lucy Lawless, who is no stranger to political activism, will guest star in two episodes of NBC comedy Parks and Recreation playing a single mum.
"I am always amazed by the acting and writing. It's kooky, ironic and elegant," Lawless tweeted.
BARRY HOSTING BIRTHDAY BASH
National MP Maggie Barry, the expert voice of motherhood, paid parental leave, palliative care and redheads, will offer her outlook at Outward Bound's 50th birthday celebrations next month. Barry, a former Outward Bound student, will host the glittering gala dinner at the Auckland War Memorial Museum and interview outgoing Air NZ chief executive Rob Fyfe about iconic Kiwi brands.
NOBILO DUFFS ONE INTO OLYMPICS BUNKER
Friend of bowl-cuts Nadzeya Ostapchuk may be spitting tacks at New Zealand's latest Olympic medal, but expat professional golfer and television commentator Frank Nobilo posted a cryptic tweet this week about his former homeland's tally.
"Lost in Rory's runaway yesterday was 15-year-old Lydia Ko from New Zealand winning US Women's Am. Makes up for lack of medals at Olympics," the 52-year-old tweeted.
Ko's triumph is a huge accomplishment, but what lack of medals?
Was NBC's coverage so delayed Nobilo didn't get the news this was one of our most successful Olympic hauls to date? New Zealand pocketed 13 medals and came 15th on the medals board - ahead of Spain, Brazil, Canada and South Africa.
Auckland-born Nobilo, who retired from professional golf nine years ago and is a commentator on The Golf Channel, owned by the NBC Sports Group, will no doubt have plenty more to share when his sport enters the Olympic repertoire in Rio.