Tauranga health advisers say the nation "has a serious battle on its hands" with fast-food marketing after the Government's new policy to tackle child obesity was announced.
Since Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said childhood obesity would be one of his health targets, nutritionist and active lifestyle advisers have called for tougher marketing regulations around unhealthy foods to get results.
The Childhood Obesity Plan includes improved public information and resources, increasing physical activity, some of which will be done in education settings, and actions for the health sector and the food and beverage industry, Dr Coleman said.
"Our plan focuses on children, as that's where the evidence shows we can have the greatest influence. By focusing on them we expect to also influence the whole family," he said.
Sport Bay of Plenty Active Families advisor Lena Kairau said: "We have a serious battle on our hands with the marketing of fast foods.
"When we're online, watching a screen or watching TV, the bombardment of fast-food marketing is powerful," she said. Ms Kairau visits local schools and runs active children classes.
"I've seen a huge change with children taking part in physical activities, especially in Year 9 and Year 10 because physical education is no longer compulsory and students don't feel it's as important as other subjects," she said.
The child obesity health target is at the heart of the plan and will join the minister's other health targets next July through the B4 School Check, the health check done at no charge for 4-year-olds.
The target will be for 95 per cent of children identified as obese to be referred to an appropriate health practitioner for assessment and family-based nutrition, activity and lifestyle interventions.
Healthy Food Guide nutritionist Claire Turnbull welcomed the Government's decision but called for tougher regulations around advertising and marketing unhealthy foods.
"When you're at a gas station, you can buy three chocolate bars for $3. It doesn't matter what you know about food, that kind of marketing overrides your knowledge and ability to make decisions about food.
"The reality is, who's responsibility is that? The massive over encouraging of consumption is still going to be a problem."
She said tackling obesity would be "very challenging" when the surrounding environment encouraged over-consumption.
James Woodbridge, Burger King marketing general manager said people making comments around fast-food marketing were "naive".
"I think the Government has been surprised at the activities the industry has been doing ... to actually put in place programmes to improve the education of the consumer regarding food content," he said.