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Food Police State fails to eventuate

Written By: - Date published: 12:18 pm, June 4th, 2008 - 86 comments
Categories: education, health - Tags:

Remember the tories and the Kiwiblog Right getting all flustered about the ‘Food Police’, when guidelines were announced to control junk food in school tuck shops? Remember how this was the Nanny State at its most perverse and surely one step from us all being fed a daily ration of Soylent Green?

Well, now the guidelines are in place. Our state schools and on-site businesses are no longer making a profit off feeding junk to our kids. Contrary to all the howling and gnashing of tory teeth, the world hasn’t ended. The jackbooted Food Police haven’t been raiding schools. Somehow, it seems to be OK. In fact, a report today shows that, while obesity levels have plateaued they are still very high, bringing with them an enormous cost in quality of life, lost productivity, and extra health expenditure. So, it seems very wise that the government is tackling this issue at the beginning, by ensuring that our kids have healthy food options at school and aren’t encouraged into bad eating habits that will have dangerous and costly ramifications later in life.

Hmm, a wise use of moderate government regulation to help nip a problem in the bud. But don’t expect to hear the tories praising it any time soon. No, they’re too busy looking for the next issue over which to whip up an empty hysteria.

86 comments on “Food Police State fails to eventuate ”

  1. Julie 1

    It’s a petty point, but it annoys me that Farrar seems to be unaware that NAG is an acronym that has been used throughout the school system for years and years now, and doesn’t just apply to the new food rules. Those working in education often refer to a litany of acronyms, NAGs and DOPs and BOTs and BTs and so on. NAGs haven’t just been invented in the last week, but reading Kiwiblog you’d think they had just been fresh hatched.

  2. mike 2

    Good old nanny state is still allowing kids to have an evil pie once a term though.

  3. higherstandard 3

    Yes Clinton

    I’m sure all the dairys near highschools are postively delerious.

    If you really believe this will have any noticeable effect on obesity levels in NZ you are delusional. Incentivise and encourage kids to exercise far more effective than taking pies out of the school tuckshop.

  4. Julie. That’s because Farrar is a dog-whistler and nothing more. He’s not interested in intellectual honesty.

    HS. Maybe so, but the point is at least the State is no longer selling obesity causing foods to kids. I’m sure you’ve seen the health consequences of people being brought up on poor diets plenty of times.

    Will this solve the problem, obviously not. Is it better than being part of the problem, obviously it is.

  5. Yes Clinton

    I’m sure all the dairys near highschools are postively delerious.

    HS – Steve put his real name in the public sphere of his own accord and said he would continue to write under his nom de plume. I want to know why you have chosen to refer him as “Clint” rather than respect his desire to be addressed by his pen-name.

    I’ve seen this sh*t before and I know it’s a favoured tactic of the kiwiblog right but you should realise it makes you come off as a smug bully (especially as you are unwilling to provide *your* real name). I thought you were better than that but between this and some of your more recent comments I’m starting to think you’re just another useless scumbag rightie.

  6. slightlyrighty 6

    Poor food choices will always be out there and in some cases just outside the school gates. It would be a more responsible move to teach kids how to eat in a healthy manner than force kids to eat in such a way.

    It would make more sense to focus on balance in life that restrictions.

    Yes kids are getting fat, but when primary schools ban kids from bringing a ball to school in case they engage in “competitive sport” (St Bernadettes school in Johnsonville) you have to ask is the problem more than just the wrong sort of food, or is it the wrong sort of lifestyle?

  7. Yeah it’s all a storm in a Mc Sundae really. It would be very hypocritical for the government to run campaigns on obesity while allowing state schools to sell unhealthy food.

  8. r0b 8

    Incentivise and encourage kids to exercise far more effective than taking pies out of the school tuckshop.

    Are you sure about that HS? The American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine aren’t so sure:

    (PS – I second ‘Sod on the name thing)

  9. higherstandard 9

    Sod and rOb

    Clinton has come out on this blog if he wants me to call him Steve that’s fine.

    And rOb Yes I am sure that incentivising and encouraging exercise in the young is far more effective than attempting to control their diets.

    And sOD please control yourself I’m sure your computer could do without all the spittle on it

  10. Byron 10

    I know we’re only a few comments into this thread but surely New Zealands low wages (not to mention the awful child poverty rates) are the elephant in the living room here? yes kids will go to the dairy, and when they do its a lot cheaper to get a pie than it is to get a sandwich, and a pie is much more filling.

    I don’t think we’ll see much change in obesity until wages rise to meet the cost of healthy* living, which of course has gone up considerably this year, srapping GST would be a damn good idea as well.

    *healthy is a problematic term, but thats a whole other discussion

  11. r0b 11

    If you really believe this will have any noticeable effect on obesity levels in NZ you are delusional. Incentivise and encourage kids to exercise far more effective than taking pies out of the school tuckshop.

    Ok HS, it’s nice that you’re so sure. But do take the time to actually read this article:
    Because the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine are not as sure as you:

    Just last month, the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine published joint guidelines for physical activity and health. … What they didn’t say, though, was that more physical activity will lead us to lose weight. The best they could say about the relationship between fat and exercise was this: ‘It is reasonable to assume that persons with relatively high daily energy expenditures would be less likely to gain weight over time compared with those who have low energy expenditures. So far, data to support this hypothesis is not particularly compelling.’

    And the best review of the best studies is not so sure either:

    Yet the Finnish report, the most scientifically rigorous review of the evidence to date, can hardly be said to have cleared the matter up. When the Finnish investigators looked at the results of the dozen best-constructed experimental trials that addressed weight maintenance – that is, successful dieters who were trying to keep off the pounds they had shed – they found that everyone regains weight. … As the Finns themselves concluded, the relationship between exercise and weight is ‘more complex’ than they might otherwise have imagined.

  12. r0b 12

    Ahh – and Byron has hit the nail on the head re wages and healthy living (if not GST).

  13. polaris 13

    “empty hysteria” – see http://www.thestandard.org.nz/?p=2116

  14. higherstandard 14


    I haven’t the time to go into a lengthy lesson regarding metabolism and the beneficial effects of exercise on weight and cardiovascular risk factors.

    Physical activity won’t necessarily make one loose weight it will however in many and in those that don’t loose weight there will be a shift towards less adipose tissue and more muscle. There will also be measurable effects on hyperinsulinaemia and repiratory function overtime.

    Suffice to say that looking at weight and BMI in isolation is a very blunt instrument and Yes I still stick to my position of encouraging/incentivising kids to exercise as being far more effective than playing games with school tuckshops.

    And no Byron hasn’t hit the nail on the head there are demonstrably more fatties amongst the worlds wealthy

  15. r0b 15

    Yes I still stick to my position of encouraging/incentivising kids to exercise as being far more effective than playing games with school tuckshops.

    Of course exercise has multiple benefits, that is not in dispute. But the relationship with obesity (your original claim) is by no means simple. Once again do please read that article properly at some point. It is an accessible review of the history of the science / evidence relating to exercise and weight.

    there are demonstrably more fatties amongst the worlds wealthy

    Yes and no. At the extremes those suffering from genuine malnutrition are of course not fat. But in “rich” countries obesity is largely a condition of the (relatively) poor, who consume food that is cheaper but unhealthy (“energy dense”). This is basic stuff HS, you can find any amount of evidence, here’s one at random:

    Many health disparities in the United States are linked to inequalities in education and income. This review focuses on the relation between obesity and diet quality, dietary energy density, and energy costs. Evidence is provided to support the following points. First, the highest rates of obesity occur among population groups with the highest poverty rates and the least education.

    There is no question that the rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the United States follow a socioeconomic gradient, such that the burden of disease falls disproportionately on people with limited resources, racial-ethnic minorities, and the poor.

  16. Byron 16


    True (I assume) but on this issue you can’t really look at it in a global context, most of the worlds poor would live off rice and other subsistance crops, but the poor in New Zealand are not living of subsistance farming, so their diet is very different. Poverty in New Zealand doesn’t mean a whole family working on the rice crop, it means an overworked and underpaid cleaner giving his or her children a few coins to buy lunch, do the kids get the $1.50 pie, which is filling but probably more fat than meat, or do they spend $2.70 on the vege sandwich which will hardly keep you satisfied for long.

    (those prices are probably out of date- they were the tuck shop prices when I was in school)

  17. Emma 17

    I don’t know what it’s like for kids these days. But for me the tuckshop was less of a problem than all of the panicked adults trying to get me to “diet” and “exercise”. Diet in those days meant starvation and exercise meant obsession without any shred of enjoyment. And personally both of those things have caused me more trouble than the miniscule amount of pies I ate at school. Not to mention the mental health results of a culture obsessed with how my body looked rather than any other measurement of success or health. Fatness is about so much more than pies. Byron makes good points. And the fact that there are fat people everywhere should say something about causality, I think.

    I hope you have a nice big girth going on higherstandard because otherwise you are using fatties pejoratively, and is that really cool?

  18. insider 18

    The exercise weight thing is an energy input issue. The more you exercise the more you want to eat. Part of the management of this is learning to manage your energy input and training your body, ie don?t eat more while exercising. Can be hard but if you are eating the same and exercising more, weight should reduce. Exercise more and eat more, well it may or may not reduce depending on proportional changes.

  19. Higherstandard 19


    If you’ve taken offence at the term fatties I apologise

    For both you and Byron obesity is generally caused by one or more of the following

    The genes you inherited from your parents
    How well your body turns food into energy
    Your eating and exercising habits
    Your surroundings
    Psychological factors

    Some of the posters here would have you believe that obesity is caused by one’s socieoeconomic status I would disagree and say that just because there may be more obese persons in one socieoeconoimc group than another does not mean that poverty causes or contributes to obesity.

  20. Stephen 20

    Sorry lprent it just means I would like to have deleted my post, but that function doesn’t exist. So a period (sort of less invasive).

    [lprent:Good point. Adds another function to the wishlist, and sings “If I only had time”. Ok – if I see a single dot comment, I’ll nuke it]

  21. Emma 21


    I’m pretty ofay with the multitudinous causes of fatness and I happen to agree with you on all counts. Which is why I don’t think there’s one solution to The Great Big Scary Obesity Epidemic. And it’s also why I think that “calories in/ calories out” and “healthy eating” are a waste of time for most people. It’s far more complex than that. And healty eating is basically often an exercise in who is holier than thou.

    What I do think is that those psychological factors you mentioned as well as environment and food play a big role in the fatness of those at a lower socio-economic level. I think poverty causes poor quality of life, which ever way you cut it. And whether that leads to fatness I can’t say. But I do think that the fact that there are a lot of fat, poor people is something that warrants further investigation, instead of dismissal on the basis of lack of meaning.

  22. r0b 22

    that just because there may be more obese persons in one socieoeconoimc group than another does not mean that poverty causes or contributes to obesity.

    HS, you scare me sometimes. You presumably couldn’t do your job if you were stupid, so when you say stupid things (such as the above) it can only be as a result of truly profound ideological blindness.

    For heaven’s sake do some reading on the links between socioeconomic status and obesity. I got you started above, here’s more:


    Many health disparities in the United States are linked to inequalities in education and income. This review focuses on the relation between obesity and diet quality, dietary energy density, and energy costs. Evidence is provided to support the following points. First, the highest rates of obesity occur among population groups with the highest poverty rates and the least education.


    Although the problem of unhealthy overweight has much to do with how we live as individuals, it seems profoundly determined by how we live as a society. … A review published in the January 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides an important analysis of poverty and obesity and supports the notion that addressing obesity more effectively requires confronting it as a societal and public health problem. … They review a substantial body of literature showing that low income and low education levels are associated with obesity in the United States; this is especially the case for women.


    A recent published in the journal BMC Public Health study highlights the profound impact that poverty can have on obesity rates. The study examined 2,200 children in Canada between the years of 1994 and 2002. The bottom line: kids in the poorest neighborhoods gained more weight in this eight-year period than middle-income children.

    And in New Zealand:

    Poverty increases risk of obesity-related illness

    Thursday, 1 November 2007, 12:51 pm
    Press Release: Public Health Association
    People with lower incomes face increased risk of obesity-related illness and death

    Two health reports released today highlight the increased risk of obesity-related illness and death faced by people with lower incomes, says Public Health Association Director Dr Gay Keating.

    The reports are Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer, from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research; and An Indication of New Zealanders’ Health 2007, from the Ministry of Health.

    Just how much proof of the bleeding obvious do you need HS?

  23. vto 23

    Haven’t read any posts above, but will give credit where due for this.

    But it also highlights the classic area of concern for someone of my particular type of politic lean-to’s. Namely, the growing influence of government at the expense of local communities.

    Its a big subject but areas where govt has picked up the reins, and consequently more local and personal entities have dropped the reins include this particular matter, family support (dpb, wff, etc), health and fitness, it goes on.. Even the responsibility for actually raising a family is seen by many as having been weakened by govt intervention thru the anti-smacking law.

    In my opinion more of the responsibility should rest with the local community and families and people themselves. It is what makes communities strong. This change in responsibility is at the heart of much community fracture today – the strands holding the community together are broken and taped back together by larger more remote entities (govt). It makes for weaker communities and that is why, despite this being a good thing for kids health it is something that we should not be relying on govt to do but should do ourselves.

    Unfortunately I suspect I am tilting at windmills because the trend for the devolving of responsibility from families and local communities to larger central govt has been going on for a long time now and I do not see it changing for a while yet. Big topic, which this thread touches on, and my 2c has been scribbled down pretty quickly so is a scratchily written but strongly held view.

  24. vto 24

    Hi there rOb, just read your last post briefly. An area I have also pondered long and hard on. Those reports etc that you mention all say that basically if you’re poor then there is a greater chance that you’ll have poor health. With the assumption that if those people are made richer then their health will improve.

    I struggle with this proposition because from my too many years on the planet what I see is not that poverty leads to poor health but rather the same attitudes and approaches to life that lead to poverty are also the attitudes and approaches that lead to poor health etc. Or, the same attitudes and approaches to life that lead to poor health also lead to poverty.

    In other words – the wrong approach to life in general leads to all manner of ills, including poverty, obesity, crime, etc. You can give these types of people all the money in the world but unless there is a change in attitude then it is bound to fail.

    **authors note – please dont assume re other related issues to a post like this. Of course some have the circumstances thrust on them. Of course there should be a hand up. etc. etc.

    *** this also ties in with my post above re community responsibility for their wellbeing as opposed to looking to central govt on how to live properly.

  25. George 25

    It is far easier to develop good eating habits, or change bad eating habits whilst a child. It is far harder to change them into mid 30s, as I am now doing. Time spent on teaching children about good eating and good nutrition is time well spent. As I have spent the last couple of years changing my tastes and diet I can appreciate what the government is doing.

  26. r0b 26

    Hi there rOb,

    G’day vto.

    the same attitudes and approaches to life that lead to poor health also lead to poverty.

    Ahhh OK, so the poor have only their own inadequacies to blame for being unable to afford good quality food? That’s good old fashioned tory / puritan dogma!

    Those reports etc that you mention all say that basically if you’re poor then there is a greater chance that you’ll have poor health.

    Follow the links and read in a bit more detail vto. It’s about the quality of food and what it costs. Basically sweet fatty processed (“energy dense”) food is cheap, so that is what you eat if you have limited financial options.

    You can give these types of people…

    “These types of people”. The unworthy ones. The unworthy children too young to have made any choices. Lovely.

  27. mondograss 27

    VTO – At least now you have the ability to run for DHB and interact with the DHB to improve local health delivery programs through local politics. The faceless corporate CHE’s of the 90’s were impossible to engage with, except as a patient. The point of the DHB reforms does seem to be lost on most people though, with a truly dreadful level of apathy towards the elections etc. Given how much people are concerned about health issues in NZ, I’m amazed there’s not more involvement.

  28. vto 28

    oh rOb, I was hoping those cliches which are so easily attached to the type of post I made would not be thrown uselessly around. I am not going to get into abuse.

    Which comes first – the poverty or the poor health? the poor health or the low education? the low education or the poverty? the crime or the obesity? My opinion is that they all tie together in an ‘approach to life’. I tried to describe that in my post.

    I do not look down (or rather across actually) on people in that situation as you imply (disappointed rOb). I do not say it is all their own fault (more disappointment). Did you not see my wee **s at the bottom?

    You basically ignored my entire proposition and simply threw the silly ‘tory’ blah blah tag at me.

  29. r0b 29

    Fine vto, protest your innocence, I will take your word for it. But please realise that when you use expressions like “these types of people” you are practically begging to be typecast as a heartless Tory.

    The links I cited were establishing the connection between poverty and obesity. My point is that if we want to reduce obesity (and other forms of sickness as well) probably the most effective action is to decrease poverty. What was your point exactly?

  30. vto 30

    fair enough. Unfortunately I dont have a lot of time to word things correctly always, and realised it with that post but was flustered by other goings-on here in my cave.

    My point was – I dont agree that the connection between poverty and obesity is like that. If those reports say that the poverty and obesity are often found together, and nothing more, then fine. Because that’s quite obvious. (Similarly with ‘fat cats’ in reverse, he he.)

    But what it seems those reports often say is not just that poverty and obesity are found together but they go further and state that poverty causes obesity. This is where my point comes in – I do not believe that to be the case.

    I believe obesity is (now this is generalising so dont go assuming etc. Not talking about genetic and serious health probs etc) caused by an ‘attitude to life’ (lazy and eat too much to be ‘tory’ about the wording). Same with other issues that all seem to get hauled in such as crime and poverty. They all stem from a, how shall I say, um, less than ideal ‘attitude to life’.

    And of course that ‘attitude to life’ results in lower education, poorer health, bad approach to money, crime, etc. They dont all stem from a lack of money, they stem from that attitude.

    I still haven’t described it succinctly which is frustrating moi. Hopefully you get what I’m saying. I’m sure you do.

    As for the next issue – how to fix it, well no time at the mo’ but I do not believe that simply increasing incomes will do it.

  31. r0b 31

    vto – Children are growing up obese. Is it because of their “attitude to life” or because of the food their parents can afford to feed them? Are the children “to blame”?

  32. higherstandard 32


    The ideological blindness is yours not mine.

  33. r0b 33

    Ok HS, thanks for clearing that up so convincingly.

  34. higherstandard 34

    The ideological blindness is yours not mine.

    Children are growing up obese for a number of reasons poor nutrition is one of the factors as is lack of exercise as is thrifty genetics amongst Maori, PI and certain other groups.

    Your position seems to be that poverty is the problem well I can tell you you could throw the entire health budget at the issue for ten years and you’ll make slightly more than a dent I stand by my original comment which you seem to have taken issue with incentivising exercise will do more than mucking about in school tuckshops.

    And in terms of your last comment to VTO while there are some kids getting crap food due to financial issues there are even more significant numbers of lazy parents and children out there who love eating cak regardless of the price.

  35. higherstandard 35

    Sorry r0b

    I used the word ‘cr*p’ in my post it is in moderation.

    Why can’t we remove cr*p and poppyc*ck from the banned list ?

    [lprent: Because of the damn spam. Latest set is all about masturbation. It may be time to play around with some other spam killers on the weekend.]

  36. r0b 36

    A couple of my comments have been in moderation today, I don’t think it’s necessarily language related.

    But anyway, I have to go, so sadly I will not catch your no doubt well reasoned reply until much later…

  37. higherstandard 37

    Enjoy Michael Cullen I’ll leave this for you to chew on for when you get back in case the other post hasn’t made it past Lyn

    It is not more expensive to eat healthy food than unhealthy food, this is a convenient lie. It is more expensive to eat healthy food if you are lazy. One can go to the market and buy healthy vegetables, brown rice, fruits and lean meat to feed a family for less than it would cost to eat at McDonalds. Unfortunately, the healthy option takes planning, discipline and a willingness to expend energy to prepare the food. For many people, it is not worth the effort. People have the right to make that choice, blaming poverty for poor decisions is simplistic – think smoking !

    [lprent: Been at hospital seeing a friend who had a stroke a few weeks ago. Mental note – make sure I never have one. Let it through now. Did you use your favorite expletive again?]

  38. vto 38

    rOb you said “Children are growing up obese. Is it because of their “attitude to life’ or because of the food their parents can afford to feed them? Are the children “to blame’?” in reply to my post.

    You are going off on a side-issue and avoiding my proposition again.

    To answer your rather silly question – I would suggest it is the parents “attitude”. higherstandard puts it succinctly at 5.55pm.

    Why is it so hard for some to accept that often people are obese because of their attitude? What about rich fat people? How do they fit in these convenient theories and reports? You know sometimes people need to just grow up and take responsibility for their own lives. And if that last sentence is considered some ill-informed typical ‘tory’ attitude then we live on two vastly different planets.

  39. Anthony 39

    You guys are really struggling for meaningful ammo against the Nats aren’t you? This is really scraping the dregs out of the bottom of the barrel.

    Whatever happened to people taking personal responsibility for their actions?

    I guess when you’re supporting a party that punishes hard work and success, then its par for the course to expect to be told how to live your life too.

  40. ak 40

    vto: In other words – the wrong approach to life in general leads to all manner of ills…

    Well done: nice bit of argument and deduction, but if I may be so bold, despite your reasoned and polite insistence I really don’t think you’ve stumbled on to the Meaning of Life and the solution to all ills. Not yet anyway. Just a trite truism veets.

    Ever raised teenagers veets? Ever had close friend or relly with mental illness? Take it from me son, saying “grow up” or “pull yourself together” doesn’t work too well as a rule. Even a direct “change that attitude miss!” aint too effective veets.

    See I don’t think you’re dumb or nasty veets – but yep, sadly it is an ill-informed typical tory attitude. It’s what we dopey lefties who have done an “anti John Key” and stayed in this country and worked with the less fortunate (you know, us fools who were sucked in by propaganda from those idiots like Jesus, Mother Theresa, Ghandi etc) call “blaming the victim”. It doesn’t work veets: actually it usually makes things a lot worse.

    So yep, keep right on saying stuff like sometimes people need to just grow up and take responsibility for their own lives – I know it makes you feel better (and helps the tory vote)- but if you genuinely want to help (and develop personally) try to read and get about a bit more. Count your lucky stars for the accident of birth that gave you your own “good attitude” and trust the experts in the field when they tell you what works: rOb’s given you a few good pointers and links to start with.

  41. r0b 41

    Enjoy Michael Cullen

    I don’t do Wellington.

    It is not more expensive to eat healthy food than unhealthy food, this is a convenient lie.

    Is it indeed. You’d better tell the American Society for Clinical Nutrition: http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/79/1/6

    Many health disparities in the United States are linked to inequalities in education and income. This review focuses on the relation between obesity and diet quality, dietary energy density, and energy costs. Evidence is provided to support the following points. First, the highest rates of obesity occur among population groups with the highest poverty rates and the least education. Second, there is an inverse relation between energy density (MJ/kg) and energy cost ($/MJ), such that energy-dense foods composed of refined grains, added sugars, or fats may represent the lowest-cost option to the consumer . Third, the high energy density and palatability of sweets and fats are associated with higher energy intakes, at least in clinical and laboratory studies. Fourth, poverty and food insecurity are associated with lower food expenditures, low fruit and vegetable consumption, and lower-quality diets. A reduction in diet costs in linear programming models leads to high-fat, energy-dense diets that are similar in composition to those consumed by low-income groups. Such diets are more affordable than are prudent diets based on lean meats, fish, fresh vegetables, and fruit.

    The same holds true in NZ of course: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE0806/S00009.htm

    [The Obesity Action Coalition Director Leigh Sturgiss] “Currently, it’s easier and often cheaper to buy high fat, high salt and high sugar foods, than healthy foods like fruit or vegetables. People should have access to healthy foods regardless of their income.”

    Some district health boards agree: http://www.nmdhb.govt.nz/publisheddocs/broadsheet/janmarch03.pdf

    “Hidden Hunger’ or food-poverty refers to the fact that people on lower incomes have inadequate access to healthy food as healthy food is more expensive than high-fat/sugar processed food.

    Otago University nutritionists calculate the cost of a basic healthy diet every year, see here for 2008 (pdf link). The cost of the most basic healthy diet option for a family of 4 (2 adolescents) is $231. That is far out of reach of many family budgets, so cheaper less healthy food gets substituted.

    And it’s not just about the raw cost of food, it’s about accessibility too: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/4442461a7144.html

    The research suggests people who live in low-income neighborhoods have greater access to fast food and less access to supermarkets where healthier food is available.
    “In urban settings, the environment does indeed influence physical activity and nutrition and body weight,” Kim Raine, the lead author and director of the University of Alberta’s Centre for Health Promotion Studies, said in an interview.
    “We consistently found that low-income neighborhoods do not have as much access to low-cost, healthy foods and have higher access to things like fast foods — high-calorie, high-fat foods at a relatively cheap price per calorie.”


    She [Public Health Association Director Dr Gay Keating] says studies show having a healthy diet is much harder when you are on a lower income because people cannot get appropriate and nutritious food on a regular and reliable basis.
    “For example, Maori, Pacific peoples and people on lower incomes are more likely to live in socially deprived areas where it is difficult to access healthy food. These areas also tend to have fewer quality supermarkets, and more fast food outlets.
    “Research clearly shows these groups struggle more than other groups to afford and access healthy kai. One fifth of children live in families where food runs out because of money.”

    It’s the same in England too. It’s a pretty consistent picture HS. Healthy food costs more. Poverty causes obesity and many other manifestations of poor health. Your continued denial of these fairly obvious facts is really disturbing.

  42. higherstandard 42


    You continue to selectively quote from journals like a first year med student would you like me to do the same thing from the citations you’ve given me.

    The association between poverty and obesity may be mediated by the low cost of energy-dense foods and may be reinforced by the high palatability of sugar and fat.

    More and more Americans are becoming overweight and obese while consuming more added sugars and fats and spending a lower percentage of their disposable income on food.

    Consumer food choices are driven by taste, cost, and convenience, and to a lesser extent by health and variety.

    Observational data on the costs of freely chosen diets are limited. The Consumer Expenditure Survey does not report quantities of foods purchased, whereas the CSFII does not collect data on the cost of the foods consumed. Neither database can provide information about diet quality in relation to diet costs. The USDA Food Stamp Survey does report food use and food price data but it is limited to food-assistance recipients. As yet, there are no data that would allow us to link all of the dietary and economic variables into a causal chain.

    Lyn sorry to hear about your friend that had the CVA I hope they’re recovering well.

  43. vto 43

    ak, you have completely missed my tags. And my point. Of course some people have troubles thrust upon them from birth through poor parenting or bad genes leading to ill health, etc. I tagged those out. So you get off your own high horse.

    Ak, yes I have had rellies with mental illness (and one very close right now in the worst state possible). You should read my posts more carefully. Idiot. I never say to those people “toughen up” or whatever you assume people like me do say. Those people need care.

    My point was directed at the vast majority of people in NZ (estimate 95%) who are actually quite capable of looking after themselves. If you see my first post you will see I point out that govt taking over responsibility for so much of our lives today has, in my opinion, weakened our fmilies and communities – because the responsibility has been altered / removed to some other entity. i.e. the govt. It does not work. People perform best when they are most responsible.

    ak further – you accuse me of having the solution to all ills. Read properly. I never said that, and in fact I went further and specifically stated in one of the posts that I did not. I was offering my opinion on the reason for the problem, not the solution.

    And you also assume I have a “good attitude” as a result of luck. So many assumptionns with you ak. Bit useless aren’t you.

    As for trusting the ‘experts’. Experts to me in how to raise a family, keep fit and healthy, don’t commit crime, and get an education and job are those are around me that have already done that. Lessons from planet earth.

    And it aint no typical tory attitude. If you get out more you will find it across the entire political and social spectrum.

    Your whole post was simply a typical left rant against an assumed ‘rightie’. Try reading and posting more carefully.

    Captcha: systems poisoning, how appropriate. who chooses these captcha words?

  44. vto 44

    obesity results from consuming more energy than is expended.

    work the answer out from there – it’s not that hard.

  45. r0b 45

    You continue to selectively quote from journals like a first year med student

    HS, if I quoted in as much detail as I wanted to my already overlong posts would get even longer.

    I have quoted from a variety of sources, journals, District Health Board notes, Otago University nutritionists, the Public Health Association, the Obesity Action Coalition, the old Crown Public Health, and the popular press. The message is clear and consistent. But carry on living in your dream world. You’re a medical professional. I’m sure you know best.

  46. higherstandard 46

    Yes rOb

    I’ll continue leaving in my dreamworld where I actually interact with patients on a daily basis you live in your socialist dreamworld of self interest, lack of personal responsibility and where the solution to everything is to throw money at it.

  47. r0b 47

    the solution to everything

    The solution to anything HS, always begins with a clear and honest understanding of the problem.

  48. higherstandard 48

    On that I’ll agree with you and seeing as we’re both off topic in relation to the original post perhaps we should leave it there.

  49. vto 49

    stalemate ay rOb and HS.

    Surely the solution is to eat less? Shouldn’t that be the target of any programme to assist? Rather than fire off on some indirect tangent that requires 2 or 3 steps before getting to the actual problem, which increasing incomes would involve (i.e. first get them the money, second require them to spend it on the right food, etc)?

    Sorry folks, but I just can’t escape the simplicity of this issue. I am a tad overweight because I know I eat a little more and exercise a little less than I used to. Rich fat folk are surely the same. Poor fat folk are surely the same.

    If ever there was a personal responsibility issue this is it.

    And yet again Captcha does exactly that with this time:: pro stairs. ha ha ha ha ha ha what a larf

  50. higherstandard 50


    In some people that is the answer but not all.

    Just as no two people are the same persons metabolisms and response to dietary intake and exercise vary drastically.

    I think where both r0b and would agree is that a dietary intake lower in energy dense food combined with increasing exercise, no smoking and a low to no alcohol intake is beneficial in virtually all persons. I certainly agree with you that the vast majority of the population cold do more to look after themselves.

  51. vto 51

    HS, of course. All of those steps require, simply, an effort on the part of person that is obese, be they rich or poor.

  52. ak 52

    vto: (after several thousand words) “Surely the solution is to eat less?”

    Classic. I take it all back veets: that Nobel prize is as good as yours.

  53. higherstandard 53


    VTO’s solution may indeed be simplistic it is however undeniable that a lower calorific intake combined with higher energy output is indeed beneficial amongst the obese in fact this is a central part of managing Type II Diabetes.

  54. vto 54

    No you have it ak, after all everything is always much more complex than it appears isn’t it. Sarcasm is always good too isn’t it.

    And you do yourself no favours by simply selectively picking items out of my posts out of context to support whatever it is you claim.

    What is that by the way? What is your solution to being overweight? All I have heard from you is a dribbly attack on me.

    And in case you haven’t picked up – this entire issue seriously annoys me. It is the classic issue of state responsibility versus personl responsibility. It is the classic case of complicating what is a simple issue. It also is a classic highlight of the differences in general approach to life between the hard left and someone like me.

    Why does the ‘left’ always make excuses. And never criticise people who let themselves and their communities down? Oh that’s right, they do – if they are white and ‘middle class’ or rich. Otherwise never.

    The current version of the ‘left’ is wearing thinner with every passing day.

  55. roger nome 55


    “can go to the market and buy healthy vegetables, brown rice, fruits and lean meat to feed a family for less than it would cost to eat at McDonalds.”

    Perhaps, though I’m not convinced of that. Anyhow, the most consumed fast-food in NZ is still fish and chips, and you can bet that the poorest are going there for their cheep calories rather than McDs.

    Seriously, you can feed a family of five for ten dollars with that stuff.

    With the price of veggies and meat at the moment you’d struggle to do it for double that price with your options.

    This debate is starting to sound like the poverty and crime debate to me. Despite the fact that dozens of studies all over the world show a pervasive linkage between levels of socio-economic disadvantage in childhood and crime the Tories always choose to blame the victim. It’s a way of externalising the suffering that results from their politics from their consciences. All very human and understandable, but let’s see it for what it is.

  56. Billy 56

    “…Tories always choose to blame the victim…”

    By whom you mean, of course, the criminal.

  57. vto 57

    ha ha excellent Billy. Caught by his own (clap)trap.

  58. higherstandard 58


    Yep fish n chips is certainly a favourite with NZers but there’s nothing to stop the purchaser asking for fish without the chips and no batter thanks and then having it with veges at home.

    I know I’ll never convince you Roger but the reason the vast majority of people eat this stuff is it’s easy and they like the taste not because of poverty they really do have a choice much as fizzy drinks vs plain old water out of the tap.

  59. r0b 59

    the reason the vast majority of people eat this stuff is it’s easy and they like the taste not because of poverty

    I was trying to stay out of this thread HS, but here you go again with your bold statements of ideology dressed as fact.

    Of course people eat bad food in part because (1) it’s easy and tasty (personal choice), and of course they eat it part because (2) it’s cheap and accessible (restrictions of poverty). But there is no way to quantify these two effects. So to claim that “the vast majority” are type (1) is a claim of ideology not fact.

    I have cited lots of research and the publicly stated positions of health groups above that emphasises the importance of (2) – bad food is cheap and easily accessible. By all means argue that we should address (1) as well, but how to we address the problem of (2)? Simply saying that the problem of (2) doesn’t exist is the option of blind ideological fools.

  60. higherstandard 60


    Let me once again remind you that if you want to see a blind ideological fool put your (singular) head in front of the nearest mirror.

    Although I’ll give you some credit from steeping back from your ‘poverty is the sole problem’ and accepting that a percentage of the population make the poor choices simply due to to ignorance and sloth.

    In terms of your ‘how do we address problem 2’ by all means throw as many tax dollars as you can at it but I for one will be unsurprised when the lines at the fish and chip shop and burger joints and the sales of fizzy drinks at the supermarket remain as healthy (forgive the pun) as ever.

    Apart from distributing food stamps which are only redeemable for ‘healthy’ foods it will take a couple of generations before the health message gets through and indeed the current and next generation (despite being more affluent) may have shorter lifespans than their parents due to their poor eating and exercise habits habits. For Gods sake man pop down to your local high school and see how many kids now take cars to school as distinct from my days when we all walked or used a bicycle.

  61. roger nome 61


    “By whom you mean, of course, the criminal.”

    If you can take a step back, do some reading and take a wider perspective than your mindless binary/black and white rhetoric allows then yes, criminals are often perpetrators and victims at the same time. The trick is to look at social problems rationally rather than being a vacuous, moralising, pontificating rhetorician about it. Often hard for Tories I know.


    “I know I’ll never convince you Roger but the reason the vast majority of people eat this stuff is it’s easy and they like the taste”

    Partly, but they also eat it because it’s cheaper. Hell, when I was a first year student without work i’d often get toward the end of the week, and have no food left and only a few dollars left, so I’d buy chips – maximum calories, minimum expense. And I didn’t even have to feed and clothe anyone else.

    But it’s not just about fast-food either. The cheapest calories at the super-market are highly refined carbs, which are the next worst thing.

    If say GST was taken off fresh produce, then all of a sudden there are more options for low income people, and their consumption patterns start changing. Am I right in assuming that you haven’t had to think about these things recently, if ever?

  62. r0b 62

    HS: that just because there may be more obese persons in one socieoeconoimc group than another does not mean that poverty causes or contributes to obesity.

    HS: It is not more expensive to eat healthy food than unhealthy food, this is a convenient lie.

    HS: Let me once again remind you that if you want to see a blind ideological fool put your (singular) head in front of the nearest mirror.

    Who said that irony was dead eh.

  63. higherstandard 63

    So r0b taking your brilliant reasoning

    Lung Cancer is caused by poverty is it ?

    Water from the tap is more expensive than fizzy drinks ?

    Tell me r0b have you ever heard of cause and effect ?

    I can only guess you work in one of those fine Ministries in Wellington and you’re desperate to justify your existence.

  64. Billy 64

    Oooh, look out, Rog has got his dander up. Rog, not everything’s society’s fault. Sometimes, the bad guys did it all by themselves. I have reached this view having taken a step back, doing some reading, and taking a wider perspective. I just didn’t get sucked in like you did.

  65. roger nome 65


    You appear to be a right-winger yet you don’t get the concepts of opportunity cost and supply and demand.

    Fast-food and processed/refined carbs are more expensive than protein/meat, and veggies, so there’s the law of supply and demand at work.

    Cooking requires time and effort spent which could otherwise be used to do other more enjoyable things – so there’s opportunity cost at work as well. Hard to do much of it, but it means that the supply and demand aspect has to be altered even more – i.e. all other things being equal people are generally going to choose the option with the least opportunity cost.

    To change consumption patterns you’re going to have to change the market dynamic some how. Taking the GST off fresh fruit and veggies would be a good start IMO.

    Also, you’re wrong on the exercise thing. Plenty of studies have shown that cardio alone doesn’t help with weight loss. Gaining muscle mass and improving eating habits are far more important.

  66. roger nome 66


    ” have reached this view having taken a step back, doing some reading, and taking a wider perspective. I just didn’t get sucked in like you did.”

    Nah you just chose to ignore all the evidence that runs contrary to your prejudices.


  67. higherstandard 67

    Roger I’m not wrong on the exercise thing firstly exercise is required to gain muscle mass secondly there are multitudinous double blind placebo controlled studies that show a significant effect of cardiovascular exercise on insulin sensitivity, BP and plasma lipids

    I certainly do understand the concepts of opportunity cost and supply and demand.

    For example if I spend this $10 on fruit and veges it might not be available for the lotto ticket or 6 pack of beer.

    I don’t disagree with taking GST off fruit and veges as an incentive for people to change their habits but it would likely be a nightmare for retailers and the government to manage.

  68. Billy 68

    Yes, Rog. I am prejudiced against criminals. I have never met a paedophile I liked.

  69. higherstandard 69


    I don’t agree with Roger’s views but he is at least reasoned and credible even if I would not support the conclusions he draws from his analysis.

    If you want to see something really scary try this link and read that last paragraph


  70. roger nome 70


    “Roger I’m not wrong on the exercise thing firstly exercise is required to gain muscle mass”

    Yeah but kids are far more likely to run around kicking a ball for a while, than do a hundred press ups per day.

    I do that later and have found it achieves far better results than doing a 3K run every day. There’s also plenty of studies that back this up.

    “For example if I spend this $10 on fruit and veggies it might not be available for the lotto ticket or 6 pack of beer.”

    $10 on fruit and veggies? and how far would that go in a family of 5? 1 day. Look, take your head out of the clouds you sanctimonious bore. When my parents were on the benefit during the “golden years” of the National party in the 1990s, the only way we got to eat veggies was through having a 1 acre size garden (not very practical in South Auckland you will understand). Even then we had to eat stodgy carbs in order to get enough calories. My parents didn’t drink, smoke or gamble either. SO take your holier than thou, smug, ivory tower attitude and get some reality already.

  71. Billy 71

    I’m well aware of loony Maia. This is my personal favourite:


    Utterly serious, apparently.

  72. higherstandard 72

    Roger I not having a go at you or your parents take a walk around Sth Auckland and Middlemore Hospital to blame the obesity and concomittant NIDDM epidemic on poverty is simplistic.

    As one of the key diabetes experts in the country said to me once if we’d been colonised by the French we wouldn’t have these issues (not discounting the fact the French probably would have depopulated the indigenous populations).

  73. higherstandard 73


    Bizzarre – my kids loved the Lorax and indeed all of Dr Suess’s stories – I wonder if there still in favour at Primary Schools these days ?

  74. lprent 74

    I was thinking about intervening in this thread on the “agree to disagree” basis. It was starting to look a bit heated with veiled and unveiled insults flying around.

    However, after reading the thread in the more normal order, it is interesting. It is almost the epitome of an argument between societies right to interfere to correct structural problems vs individual responsibility.

    In this particular context, I’d say that you also have to consider the grandmother issue. It isn’t just what you eat or your genetics. There is a considerable body of evidence about a Lamarkian style activation occouring in the formation of eggs of a female fetus.

    Society has a duty to protect its future citizens, and the question has to be how far out. That really starts to complicate a simple debate based around societal vs individual responsibility.

  75. higherstandard 75


    Aren’t both societies’ right to interfere and individual responsibility both valid ?

    Also quite true that there is interesting debate regarding Lamarkian activation – still undecided though I believe.

  76. roger nome 76


    “Auckland and Middlemore Hospital to blame the obesity and concomittant NIDDM epidemic on poverty is simplistic.”

    I agree that the answer is somewhere in the middle of the “poverty”, and “personal responsibility” narratives. I do think that poverty is a far more important factor than you seem to realise though. It’s basic supply and demand.

  77. r0b 77

    So r0b taking your brilliant reasoning

    HS, you have pretty much no idea about my reasoning, that much is obvious. You have said: Although I’ll give you some credit from steeping back from your ‘poverty is the sole problem’

    At no time did I say such a thing.

    You have said: by all means throw as many tax dollars as you can at it

    At no time did I advocate such a thing.

    My role in this thread has been to question your absurd claims, latterly:

    “that just because there may be more obese persons in one socieoeconoimc group than another does not mean that poverty causes or contributes to obesity.”

    “It is not more expensive to eat healthy food than unhealthy food, this is a convenient lie.”

    That is all I have been doing. I don’t see any point in trying to discuss the deeper issues – the influences of choice and poverty, concepts of individual vs state responsibility and so on, with someone who is so utterly ideologically blinkered that they can’t even acknowledge the basic facts at issue.

    Basic facts first, good old fashioned argument second. You are incapable of acknowledging the basic facts, as per your two claims quoted above.

  78. higherstandard 78


    I hope you didn’t take offense at my smoking analogy ?

    Much like yourself I can’t be bothered arguing with as you put it ‘someone is so utterly ideologically blinkered that they can’t even acknowledge the basic facts at issue.’

  79. lprent 80

    hs: “interesting debate regarding Lamarkian activation – still undecided though I believe.”

    Yes, but from what I understand (it isn’t one of my skill areas), the evidence is starting to get to the compelling stage. At least at the shorter lived mammal level. There is starting to be a reasonable body of statistical evidence on humans as well.

    It is probably getting close to the stage of being the working hypothesis where the defacto process is that you look for evidence to disprove it, rather looking for supporting evidence.

  80. vto 81

    Iprent, your post at 2.43pm is what I was getting at in the midde of my post at 12.36pm. And my 2c worth on that particular matter thrown in first at 4.11pm yesterday (if anyone’s bored and/or can’t be bothered scrolling back, read this one).

    Among all the other slightly heated bits and bobs.

  81. lprent 82

    It is all part of what I call the “Tragedy of the commons” debates. For instance adding iodine to salt, mass vaccinations against polio, adding calcium to the children’s diet with school milk, putting in fishing quotas and hunting/fishing seasons, having unemployment benefits, national superannuation, etc. They’re all areas where individual short-term interests conflict with costs to society as a whole over the longer-term.

    Some of those were done a long time in the past and actively benefit everyone in society today. That is what governments do.

  82. Hamish 83

    Good morning all.

    Just thought i would post this as someone in the field and witnessing what has actually happened here. I am a teacher at an Auckland school and this morning the new guidelines were presented at the staff meeting. The response was a little unenthusiastic to say the least.

    We are now required to check with the food technologies staff before discussing food in class. If that doesn’t sound reasonably daft then I do not know what does.

    There were other odd sounding rules in there as well but that was the one that stuck out. Well off to teach and interested to hear what people think.


  83. higherstandard 84


    Do what all sensible teachers should concentrate on educating the kids in whatever subject/s you’re responsible for and ignore absurd guidelines – I lecture occasionally in Auckland and have to put up with similar drivel upon occasion.

  84. Lew 85

    lprent: Jamie MacKay on The Farming Show yesterday reckoned that John Key would `win in a landslide’ if he reimplemented a milk in schools policy. Key seemed to agree, but then – that’s what he does, innit?


  85. lprent 86

    Lew: urrggh don’t even go there. I can just see it becoming trivial policy number 15 for the tories, again with no costings or detail.

    That stuff almost spoiled my taste for milk. In summer it was always trying to become yoguht.

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