Comment from an international expert reported in The Herald today reminded me that National Standards aren’t the only ideologically driven folly that Tolley is forcing down the throats of schools. She’s also doing her bit to contribute to a major health problem:
Professor James said New Zealand’s obesity controls had fallen behind the rest of the Western world. He advocates strict controls in schools, a coloured food-labelling system, a ban on food marketing to children, tax breaks for fruit and vegetables and more cycleways. Professor James said he was astonished that the National Government ditched the rule allowing only healthy foods to be sold routinely in schools.
Health Minister Tony Ryall favours an educational rather than a rule-based approach to nutrition*. But the professor said New Zealand was going against the world trend, even among conservative governments. Its policy amounted to a subsidy for bad foods and taught children that eating them was normal. He said obesity and the diseases it causes – such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers – would overwhelm health services without major changes.
Simply telling people about healthy eating and activity was of limited value as educational methods worked only on the well educated.
This article references Ryall, so why an I blaming Tolley for this? Because The Greens are on the case:
The new school food guidelines were working well, by all accounts, and schools were slowly improving the quality of food that was sold in school canteens. Most schools had accepted that they had a responsibility to try to encourage healthy, rather than unhealthy, eating, amongst children in their care. …
But then, out of the blue, and without any evidence or justification, the Minister of Education, Anne Tolley, threw out the school food guidelines earlier this year, along with the requirement to sell healthy food in schools. Amazingly, Official Information papers reveal that she did this without first consulting with school principals, or the Ministry of Health …
Does it get any stupider than this? Why doesn’t Ryall step in? Oh – that’s right, because by the time the extra costs that these kids bring to the health system kick in, he and his government will be long gone. It’s someone else’s problem. Anyway, from the Green’s link above, let’s complete the set – three out of three international experts agree:
Dr Boyd Swinburn, Director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity, said ‘I know of a lot of governments who are doing very little to combat the obesity epidemic, but New Zealand is the only one I know of ..who has actually taken a proactive stance on something which is likely to increase obesity.’
Australian researcher Jane Martin agreed. ‘I find it extraordinary. The Government needs to be shamed for that.’
Sign on to The Greens’ petition on this here. Shame on Tolley, shame on the Nats indeed.
[* Perhaps I’ve missed it – has anyone seen National’s education campaign on this?]