Malnutrition – in NZ FFS

Written By: - Date published: 6:20 am, September 20th, 2017 - 49 comments
Categories: class war, families, health, national, poverty, useless - Tags: , , , , ,

Stunningly depressing piece by Kirsty Johnston in The Herald yesterday – Number of New Zealand children hospitalised with malnutrition doubles as food costs bite

Malnutrition is putting twice as many kids in hospital compared with 10 years ago, as food prices continue to bite into household incomes.

Child hospitalisation data shows around 120 children a year now have overnight stays due to nutritional deficiencies and anaemia, compared to an average 60 a decade ago.

Doctors say poor nutrition is also a factor in a significant proportion of the rest of the 40,000 annual child hospitalisations linked to poverty – and that vitamin deficiencies are more common in New Zealand compared to similar countries.

“Housing, stress and nutrition – it’s all tied together,” said pediatrician Dr Nikki Turner, from the Child Poverty Action Group. “If you want to eat nutritiously on a low-income it’s difficult, and that means you’re more likely to get sick and stay sick for longer.”

Read on, there’s more.

Proud of your legacy, National?

49 comments on “Malnutrition – in NZ FFS”

  1. Incognito 1

    Part of the problem is that we supposedly pay export prices, you know, global market & competition and all that bizz. But when we export more and make more profit, the GDP grows and then the Government has more money to raise the minimum wage and benefits by a minisculimilistic amount, you know, because the Government cares about all of us. And so all poor people are better off and can buy more crap food. You see, it comes down to crap bad choices and Labour & the Unions (especially the Teacher Union), of course …

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      Look, you can clearly see on the graph that the bad choices really started increasing in 2008. The thing to do now is to identify who made the bad choices and extract some personal responsibility from them.

      • AB 1.1.1

        Yeah. I guess poor people decided to punish National by making lots of bad choices after National were elected. How ungrateful!

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1

          It wasn’t poor people who made the bad choice to let Mr. Peter Talley write employment law. Nor did they make the bad choice to breach human rights and introduce benefit sanctions. They didn’t make the bad choice to sell state housing and access to ministers.

          No, we know exactly who committed manslaughter and infanticide. It was the National Party.

          • AB 1.1.1.1.1

            Sorry – I should have used the sarcasm tag.
            I thought the sheer improbability of poor people suddenly making bad choices shortly after National was elected (but not before) clearly placed it in the sarc category.
            Loved your initial comment at 1.1 which is about turning National’s fake ‘principles’ against them.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.1.1

              I realised you were being sarcastic, just sticking with the “bad choices” theme.

      • Siobhan 1.1.2

        Well, lets start with Anne Tolley.

        https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/schools-no-longer-required-be-food-police

        All for personal responsibility, or, if that doesn’t work having enough money to get your stomach stapled.

        http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3260435/Stomach-stapled-MPs-put-weight-behind-Turia

        And if you really want to follow that path you get to KickStart breakfasts…which leads to Fonterra and the tax avoiding Sanitarium.

        Nice.

    • Tony Veitch (not etc) 1.2

      Dean Swift had the answer – way back in 1729 – in his essay ‘A Modest Proposal.’

      If we bred the lower classes, especially their children, for food, they would be better fed and therefore tender for the pot!

      My, haven’t we come a long way in nearly 300 years of capitalism!

      http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html

    • The Chairman 1.3

      As I mentioned to Pat the other day, sometime ago I suggested the Government may have to enter into the market. From farm to shelf, ensuring margins aren’t out of whack. It would also give them the opportunity to generate long term employment, assist employee training and provide more oversight over incomes (namely, adopting the living wage as a minimum income for all employees they take on).

      Other less grand options would be to increase core benefit rates and instate the living wage as the minimum wage.

      Provide a discount for those on low incomes via community cards.

      Remove the GST off food.

      Do any of these appeal to you? Or do you have something else in mind. In other words, what would you like to see a government do to address this?

      • cleangreen 1.3.1

        NZ First have a policy to remove GST off food, and are also keen to work with the model to suggest as ‘farm to shelf, ensuring margins aren’t out of whack. It would also give them the opportunity to generate long term employment, assist employee training and provide more oversight over incomes’

        NZ First are thinking outside the box, of “government knows best” as we know after nine years that does not work.

  2. Quasimodo 2

    In country which is a leading food *exporter* ?
    [Bill scratches his chin thoughtfully]
    What on earth could could it be ?
    Rogers’ Treasury had no data on this ..

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 3

    These are only the ones bad enough (or lucky enough?) to get treatment.

    Otago University comes out with an annual food study showing the price to eat a nutritionally balanced diet per person, per region.

    http://www.otago.ac.nz/humannutrition/research/food-cost-survey/otago057919.html

    If you look at the *basic* food cost (lowest of three categories) and compare with budgets of low income earners you can see problems.

    It’s not just beneficiaries either.

  4. cleangreen 4

    I am so ashamed of being a Auckland born living in HB/Gisborne to see that m fellow kiwis are starving and some not even able tolive in a home while I look around and see flash expensive cars around everywhere todaylike never seen before!!!!!!

    We seem to now be a careless society now.

    Butter prices are criminal too gone from around $2 to $5 now, so that is 15% a year and our inflation is supposded to be 2%!!!!

    Extortion is rife here now under National.

  5. David Mac 5

    If we’re serious about solving these kind of issues I think more money needs to be a component of a more holistic solution. A jolly good place to start but I think we’re naïve to think that an extra $300 a week into lower income households of NZ is going to make everything beaut.

    • miravox 5.1

      The definition of poverty is a lack of money. A few evaluations of programmes that do exactly what you suggest i.e. giving people cash so they’re no longer poor, have been done. Here’s a report on one evaluation from the U.S.

      https://talkpoverty.org/2016/07/07/want-lower-child-poverty-give-families-cash/

      It talks about a few other things like universal child allowances. Worth a read, if you’re interested.

      But yes, the resources for people to spend the money on need to be there – that is the more holistic solution you’re talking about? Things like good food options, accessible and affordable education and healthcare, good housing at an affordable price, second-chance education, well-planned, safe neighbourhoods, affordable childcare etc, etc?

      It would be awesome – reminds me of back in the day when I was on a single parent benefit. So much support was around to ensure my child and I could create a future (just like when Paula Bennett was a solo mum). It worked too!

      • David Mac 5.1.1

        Hi miravox, I am interested, I read your link, thanks.

        Yes re: the points you raise, inclusions for a holistic approach. I do think things like safer neighborhoods will come about when we’re better with the other things you mention. A policeman on every corner is a sticking plaster solution, the infection flares beneath.

        I am also thinking about the 100’s of families that walk onto used car lots everyday and get turned down for finance because the lender deems that the family can’t live on a $40 weekly food budget. I think we need to consider ways to avoid a 1996 money pit parked in the drive upgrading to a 2005 cash bonfire.

        • miravox 5.1.1.1

          There is so research out there about cash payment – much of it in very poor nations, but this one, in the U.S is comparable with NZ, I think. I also read Italy has just passed legislation for similar- cash payments to poor employed families. Which is actually similar to our working for families, I suppose – more cash in the hand, unconditionally to relieve poverty in poor working families… (pity no-one in power thinks to raise incomes to a living wage *sigh*).

          Agree re cars, they are expensive and when driving one that is going to break down at any moment, a bit of cash may tempt a person into buying one that is not so old (NZ has one of the oldest car fleets in the OECD, I think).

          I should have mentioned affordable, efficient public transport in my holistic list. Where I live at the moment (not NZ) the city has integrated public transport (trains, trams and buses) that cost €1/day – so 73% or people use public transport to get to work (visitors pay more of course).

          Car ownership rates are dropping here as a result – now at 372.5 / 1,000 inhabitants (I’d make a guess that these are mostly owned by quite well-off people – all late model BMWs, Audis etc around my place – although there seems to be a thing for flash minis!) and the number of annual transport passes exceeds the number of private cars. Such a transport system could certainly be a way of avoiding a 2005 cash bonfire.

          • David Mac 5.1.1.1.1

            Ha! We’re flat out running a current WOF up the Top. Nearly all the flash cars up here have an Auckland dealers name around their plates. We’re on the cusp of our next Wildebeest migration, bless em.

            Yep on cars and transport. I’m thinking more of the attitude we adopt when we’ve got a few extra $ in our purses. eg: A South Auckland family get word that a dearly loved relation is very ill up in the islands. There is a strong argument that would see them approach Instant Finance and arrange for everyone in the immediate family to go home and visit Aunty. I’m fearful of families facing these kind of decisions quickly finding themselves in exactly the situation they were in before receiving an extra $300 per week.

            • David Mac 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Those bloody parasitic shop trucks. An across the board benefit rise would see an entire upgrade in their walls of seductive pleasure. Where there once socks, Beyonce’s new fragrance.

              • David Mac

                Draco’s Co-op idea could work there. What would happen if those Shop Trucks was a small business run by a Co-op of beneficiaries?

                How bout it Warehouse Steve? Just a few lazy mill. Fab PR for The Warehouse…you still got shares in that?

                • Stuart Munro

                  The co-op idea really needs to apply to some kinds of social housing too. The cost of keeping solo parents and 1-2 children in separate dwellings is necessarily more than some degree of communal housing. Properly funded so they don’t become ghettoes such a community could offer a lot of mutual support. The Dayak longhouse is a better way to live than being rack-rented.

                  • David Mac

                    This worked well in Sweden when I lived there, it fosters intangible benefits. The people that live in the council sized borough own them. The row I lived in, every front garden had spring ready seedlings in, ready to bloom. Before moving in, the bathroom in ours had reached it’s periodical renovation date. We chose one from a number of options. Induces the stuff that really matters, pride, a safe and loving sense of community etc.

                    It’s evolving up there. An influx of new Swedes have a conditioning background of dog eat dog. Being provided with a nice home and money seems to be a destination for many, their journey complete. It’s an outlook juxtaposed to the once monoculture approach of Sven and Co.

            • miravox 5.1.1.1.1.2

              You’re not suggesting families should remain poor and kids hospitalised with malnutrition because some bastard neoliberal government deregulated the finance industry are you…???

              Put the money people back in a heavily regulated box so they stop making extortionate profits off the poor who have to borrow for family emergencies (or even a rare holiday) at rates they can’t manage because they don’t get paid a living wage!

              (Sorry for my outburst – that suggestion touched a nerve)

              • David Mac

                We agree, the status quo sucks.

                The status quo = nobody goes home to see Aunty. Skype Goodbyes.

                With an income rise of $300, with careful budgeting and a plan that is stuck to, 1 family representative heading up to the islands is doable. In a decent society we should all be able to afford such a thing.

                I’m not sure how best we induce an attitude that may arrive at the decision that 8 people going up to visit Aunty, although doable, may not be the best path to take. Sanctions, rules and laws etc are a useless way to achieve this. We have to arrive at these sorts of decisions by ourselves.

                I wonder if not too far behind someone that budgets well there wasn’t a parent that had a “No, you’ve spent this week’s budget, you’ll have to wait until Sunday for the ice-cream fund to top up again” attitude.

                I’d like to see a hefty increase lift the quality of everyone’s life, for it to work.

                • miravox

                  “I’d like to see a hefty increase lift the quality of everyone’s life, for it to work”

                  Oh I think the residents of Herne bay & St Heliers look after their increasing quality of life quite well. 😉

                  “Sanctions, rules and laws etc are a useless way to achieve this. We have to arrive at these sorts of decisions by ourselves.”

                  People don’t make decisions in isolation – it’s worth looking at places hat have more successful systems than ours, and political powers in these places don’t ignore a health society the way we do. Society and how it works has equal billing with the environment and economy.

                  Governments and people with public power (even if not the political sort) do set the tone of discourse (I’ll just use Trump as the outstanding example for that, instead of NZ examples). It also sets the tone for decision-making. We need to have a kinder, less cynical approach from the top of society, alongside changes in policy preferences and indicators. People will generally take the hint quite quickly – e.g. the NZ housing situation.

                  We need to change the government, but we also need to change how government works, not ignoring the needs of the poorest is the best start. I’m still gobsmacked about Paula Bennett’s comment about the cost of motel accommodation during this housing crisis – she was the minister responsible and didn’t see it coming – this poverty & health crisis is no different and a significant portion of blame for ignorance, discourse of ‘personal responsibility’ & cynicism that has whipped up hatred from the top goes to to the same person.

  6. Antoine 6

    I know, lets tax the water used for food production

    • Antoine 6.1

      And the CO2 produced by farms

      • Antoine 6.1.1

        Also lets not give a broad based tax cut that would leave people with more money to buy food

        • The Chairman 6.1.1.1

          Considering the wage gap between the haves and haves not, it would suggest tax cuts shouldn’t be so broad based and should be directed more towards the bottom end.

        • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.2

          Buy all means cut taxes at the bottom where the liquidity will circulate productively. But it would be better to raise taxes at the top – the top spend their surplus disposable income on speculation that further impoverishes everyone else.

          • The Chairman 6.1.1.2.1

            “But it would be better to raise taxes at the top”

            Quick, somebody tell Jacinda.

            Both would be the way to go.

            • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.2.1.1

              She has quietly mentioned she may do something to discourage speculators – if she does it right it could address a good chunk of the problem.

  7. Dot 7

    It is a plus that we have some good journalists left to inform us.
    This shame is not the Aotearoa that we want —–now it is time to vote for change.

  8. Bill 8

    This isn’t “National’s legacy” – not wholly.

    This is the ongoing legacy of Liberalism. From the linked article … (my bold)

    income in the poorest third of households has remained flat since 1982.

    This is the same across the western world (flat and declining incomes).

    Other countries have shown a willingness to break free from the tethers of Liberalism to greater and lesser degree. Which is why ( I’ll throw in the punt) progressive or left leaning folks need to vote Green- firstly, to ensure there is no NZL/NZF coalition and secondly, to push NZL way beyond their Liberal comfort zone.

    • The Chairman 8.1

      “This is the ongoing legacy of Liberalism”

      Indeed.

      “Which is why ( I’ll throw in the punt) progressive or left leaning folks need to vote Green- firstly, to ensure there is no NZL/NZF coalition and secondly, to push NZL way beyond their Liberal comfort zone.”

      I was rather disappoint with James Shaw the other day. When asked (on Q&A) how would he make Labour more progressive than it already is, poverty wasn’t one of the two issues he plans to further push Labour on.

      From 25 seconds into the interview:
      https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/q-and-a/clips/james-shaw

      • cleangreen 8.1.1

        100% chairman,

        I agree, also last night on the Climate change debate I heard James Shaw crowing about his being in “UK big bussiness management ” and that was his attempt to show he must be regarded as capable to be in Government.

        That did not go down well in our home as we always considered Green Party as a ‘working class’ stable government partner not a big bussiness government, as that is what we have had for 9 urs and are dying everywhere now because of ‘big bussiness’.

        James Shaw is to slick for his own good I am afraid.

        We used to be a green party members 1999-2002 when Green Party members were all working class not upper class. As a leader he is sending the wrong message for us as he may be trying to suck in the rich set now.

        My family has looked at NZ First because of this who are all either retired working follks or just other ordinary folk we have found, and cetainly not all rich folks when we went to any meetiings.

  9. Very sad state of affairs. I work directly with a foodbank and I know things are very poor for the poor and disadvantaged. Yes lots of blame to share around from the neolibs, capitalism, and all the rest. We need to fix the structure AND we need people to just help others. That is my hope.

  10. The Chairman 10

    I would like to extend my questions made in comment 1.3 to everyone.

    We know this is a problem, so lets see if we can come to a consensus on a solution.

    So there’s the challenge for you lot. Let’s do this.

    • In Vino 10.1

      5½ hours later, and mine is the first response. I think too many people have seen through your cleverness, Mr Chairman. I suggest you give it all up.

    • Andrea 10.2

      Until ‘the market economy’ beyond the shopping trolley of low income people is dealt with it won’t matter how much money you add – those people will see little to no direct benefit from it.

      Rates/rents will rise. That’s inevitable. They’ve been rising like scum to the top of the septic tank ever since the Accommodation Supplement became juicy enough.

      Power. Water. Transport. Education and uniforms. Medical attention and dental/optician. They will ALL rise, ticket clippers in hand, to chad their share. You know they will.

      Liberate more land for housing. Good horticultural land for a pile of jerry-built rubbish – and the transport costs will be added to the price of the humble cabbages, potatoes and seriously fat-laden and meat-flavoured sausages.
      Grow your own at home and sell or share? Well hahaha – council by-laws, health and safety, hell no, it’s not middle class.

      It wouldn’t matter how much you added to the basic income – the vultures, leeches, and systems beyond will leave the dupes in the middle no better off.

      Fix the social environment first – otherwise you’re simply feeding the parasites.

  11. SpaceMonkey 11

    This is appalling! And in NZ???? I hold every NZ Government accountable for this since David Lange’s Fourth Labour Government onwards. That’s where the disease to our society started that led to this and there’s been no serious attempt to change course since then.

  12. patricia bremner 12

    We also need to face that if you are really poor, long slow cooking is not the best use of the power available because of costs.

    Along with the food, there needs to be basic cooking utensils and a good pot and steamer. They are not cheap!!

    Night classes could offer nutritious food recipes and lessons in 1 pot meals, pot and steamer meals. etc. how to multiply the meal for different numbers, and cheap additions to enlarge food value and portion size.

    Basic information like, porridge has iron and is a sustaining breakfast. The use of lentils and beans to bulk out meats. Learning to use frozen vegetables in winter.

    Many families still have war recipes, these were aimed at being filling and nutritious.Some of the better recipes should be put together to provide meal ideas.

    All poor families want to feed their families as well as possible, so more money, more community cooking, more sharing and caring is needed so we create a climate of “Let’s do this”

  13. Has anybody else noted that English is often interviewed whilst eating a bloody good meal . What an insult to the people living in poverty,

    • Delia 13.1

      Yes I had, to many times and it is not a mistake any other Leader makes, shameful and utterly insensitive.

  14. People should no longer be surprised by this if they’ve bothered to read history. This is the type of thing that always happens under capitalist systems going all the way back to the first civilisation in Sumer. Capitalist systems always result in the collapse of society as the people at the bottom are deprived of the necessities of life by the greed of the rich.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/mar/14/nasa-civilisation-irreversible-collapse-study-scientists

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