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Eating right and physical activity do matter

Published: Thu 20 Nov 2003 05:58 PM
Eating right and physical activity do matter
The Obesity Action Coalition supports Professor Peter Gluckman of the Liggins Institute who is calling for more resources to be put into maternal and infant nutrition.
“Giving babies a good start in life is so important and there is strong evidence that those very early stages in life do influence what happens to people’s health later in life,” says Celia Murphy Executive Director of OAC.
However OAC has concerns with some of Professor Gluckman’s other assertions. He suggests teaching people to eat better and exercise more won’t make any difference to the likelihood of people getting heart disease and diabetes and that poor eating in adulthood doesn’t cause obesity.
“Prof Gluckman seems to be suggesting that a healthy lifestyle won’t make any difference, but the energy in, energy out equation does matter at all stages of life. Eating too much and being physically inactive is a sure recipe for getting fat. As people get fatter and less active they increase the risk of getting and/or exacerbating a whole host of health problems. Heart disease, and diabetes are probably among the more serious of the complications of obesity but there are many other consequences of getting fat,” Ms Murphy said.
“To suggest that people who have a predisposition to obesity, diabetes and heart disease shouldn’t bother to eat well and be active is outrageous. These folk need to be especially careful to maintain a healthy lifestyle all their lives. If they don’t their health will suffer more than is necessary and their conditions will be much harder to treat.
“We couldn’t agree more with Prof Gluckman that the health of mothers and babies is vitally important. The eating habits and activity patterns learned during childhood are desperately important. Children need to be taught to eat well, be encouraged to be active and to continue those good patterns through out life,” says Ms Murphy. OAC believes teaching people how to eat well and to be active is important but it won’t be enough to reduce the high incidence of overweight and obesity that exists now.
Ms Murphy says, “Just telling people what to do doesn’t make them do it. At the moment it is easier to make unhealthy choices than it is to make the healthy ones, even for highly motivated people. The way we live now encourages us to eat too much food, especially high fat and high sugar food, and discourages physical activity. The way foods are advertised, huge portion sizes, the enormous variety of high energy, low nutrients foods now available, our transport systems and even our urban designs make it so easy to overeat and be reliant on our cars. We need to change the environment we live in so eating good food and being physically active are the normal, obvious things for everyone of all ages to do.”

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