Obesity epidemic

There is a disease sweeping the nation. Sadly its numbers are highest in low-income communities. Probably worse in Pasifika areas, rarely seen in wealthy suburbs.

How does it present? Quite insidiously. Evidence of learned behaviour. Recent publicity from mobile dental units trying desperately to alleviate appalling rotten teeth of little children. By school age the evidence is clearer. Plump limbs inhibiting children's play, participation in games and athletics. No chance to be a Silver Fern or All Black. They are already disabled.

The usually poor parents often working long hours or long-term unemployed subsisting in a fog of hopelessness and sometimes drugs, buying cheap, junk fast foods and copious quantities of fizzy drinks are the norm. Multinational companies and fast food franchises are the winners here with carte blanche. Young, pregnant women have more problematic pregnancies and births.

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Yes, I am talking about an obesity epidemic. By middle age many other problems manifest themselves. Quality of life is poor. Diabetes, cardiac and kidney problems. Wounds take longer to heal. Amputations become necessary. Wheelchairs, extra-large, are needed. Housing adapted with ramps, wider doors, access to showers. Hugely costly alterations.

We've taxed tobacco and been fairly successful but I suspect obesity may be more debilitating and costly to the health system long-term.

Remember, this epidemic is not caused by a pathogen. It is the result of deliberate marketing and targeting of at-risk communities. Governments are entrusted with the care, health and economy of the nation, and failure to act denies thousands of our children health and happiness. We've had nine years of inertia from the National Government and now the Coalition seems disinclined to take action. (abridged)

ROSEMARY BARAGWANATH

Whanganui

Who should we send home?
Ihumatao could mean a bloody nose.
Some are saying "Send them home" but are not some of them already at home? And do they not have the right to welcome and show hospitality to their supporters? I do hope the place will not live up to its name with blood being spilled.
I must urge caution to every Kiwi in relation to this situation. It could be repeated 1000 times anywhere in New Zealand. Especially in Taranaki.
As a member of several Taranaki tribes, I can attest that the Treaty has been breached in every possible way. And that the lawbreakers have granted themselves immunity every time. It's still going on.
Take, for instance, the term "Treaty settlements". It is my contention that this is just one of many pseudo-legal tricks NZ Governments have used since 1840. So just exactly who is carrying on an "illegal occupation"?
I would advise every so-called landowner in Taranaki, and especially Waitotara, to research their land title and find out how their property was alienated from Maori.
I don't believe there was any legitimate reason or purpose for the colonisation of this country by the English or anyone else. A bit of in-depth research would prove it to be an unlawful invasion.
So who should we send home? I would have to go back four generations to find a real Maori. But I say just being born here makes me Maori. So kia ora koutou katoa.
POTONGA NEILSON
Castlecliff

Pedestrians' plight
Brian Stewart's argument regarding pedestrians is like the old joke about the person who asked for directions and was told, "I wouldn't start from here".
Likewise, if I want to cross the intersection at Victoria Ave and Ingestre St without pedestrian lights, Brian would direct me to a pedestrian crossing entirely somewhere else.
Let us forget about some of the people of Whanganui who chose to walk and others who have no alternative but to walk, or those through age or with disabilities use electric buggies, and tourists who want to explore our lovely city.
Heaven forbid that the motorist is ever inconvenienced, so come on, road management, get it sorted.
PAT GARFORTH
Whanganui

Bullet voting
There is one way to stop unvoted-for people getting into positions of power. Vote for the best person in your area, then leave all others blank, including in parliamentary voting.
Just vote for one person you believe in and leave everything else blank, including the party vote. The parties are all one leg of the same dog.
MERV SMITH
Bulls

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