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NZ: Cancer report puts heat on National’s health policies

FOE Media Release, 27 February 2009

“Opportunities to reduce New Zealand’s high cancer rate are lost as a result of National’s decision to reverse important health initiatives in the name of opposing the nanny state”, according to Dr Robyn Toomath from FOE (Fight the Obesity Epidemic). This follows release of a report calling for government intervention to prevent cancer using policies that encourage healthy eating and greater physical activity.

The report “Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention” is written by a group of leading international cancer experts and other scientists. It makes recommendations based on an exhaustive review of measures aimed at improving diet, increasing physical activity and reducing obesity.

“The recent move by the Education Minister to allow junk food back into schools is beyond belief”, Dr Toomath said, noting that the report recommends that governments require schools to meet high nutritional standards.

Dr Toomath noted that the report calls for governments to use legislation and regulations to improve the food environment. The New Zealand Government is doing the opposite. National intends to remove the ability to do this from the Public Health Bill awaiting its second reading. “It’s madness to take such a backward step that flies in the face of all the evidence about what we need to do”, she said.

The report also recommends that governments “restrict advertising and marketing of ‘fast food’ and other processed foods and sugary drinks to children, on television, in other media, and in supermarkets”. “This won’t happen after National has gutted the Public Health Bill of the tools needed to do this”, Dr Toomath said.

The report follows on from a 2007 report by the same expert group that found that poor diet, obesity and physical inactivity all contributed to the risk of cancer. About one third of all cancers could be prevented by addressing these factors.

The report is available at


Published on February 27, 2009 in New Zealand news