The New Zealand government has announced a package of 22 separate initiatives to tackle childhood obesity, targeting overweight children from the age of four. By December 2017, as a result of free B4 School checks, 95 percent of children identified as obese will be referred to health professionals for clinical assessment and nutrition or lifestyle interventions.

Last year, over 58,600 children went through these screening checks and more than 1,400 were referred on for obesity-related support. The move has been welcomed by the NZ Food and Grocery Council, with chief executive Katherine Rich praising the government’s pragmatic approach. “We all know that childhood obesity is a complex issue and that we must all help to solve it.

Everyone must do their bit – families, individuals, industry, government and public health officials – and this package recognises that,” Rich said. The chief executive also emphasised the positive role that the whole industry could play in the future, given the work done so far around food reformulation, portion sizes and school programmes.

“We will work with the government to further those initiatives and help progress an integrated package enabling people to make informed choices around their lifestyles,” Rich said.