Childhood healthy weight

Around a third of NZ children are overweight or obese. This figure is even higher for Pacific Island and Māori children (60% and 40% respectively).

There is no simple answer to this growing problem. The obesogenic environment in which we live, nutrition, sleep, behaviour and physical activity all have a role to play in maintaining a healthy childhood weight. In order to create sustainable change it will take a collective effort. This includes government, health, education, social services, individuals, families, friends and whānau.

The South Island approach

In the South Island, the five district health boards (DHBs) agreed that an integrated approach is the most effective way to prevent and manage overweight children in the South Island.

In 2014, under the South Island Alliance, a Clinical Advisory Group for childhood healthy weight was established. The role of this group is to oversee the implementation of the South Island Childhood Healthy Weight Strategic Plan and provide support, advice and direction to South Island DHBs.

This work also supports the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan and associated health target, which requires obese children to be identified at B4 School Checks and referred to a health professional for clinical assessment and family based nutrition, activity and lifestyle interventions.

South Island Childhood Healthy Weight Strategic Plan

The South Island Childhood Healthy Weight Strategic Plan aims to provide a more consistent approach to the prevention and treatment of unhealthy weight in childhood across the South Island. It includes five key aims:

  1. prevention of unhealthy childhood weight
  2. consistent and accurate identification of overweight children
  3. treatment and management of overweight children and their families
  4. evaluation of treatment options and interventions
  5. collaboration with other relevant organisations to support a whole of system approach to childhood healthy weight.

In addition to the South Island strategic plan, each South Island DHB is responsible for developing its own local childhood healthy weight plan.