Date Published: 9 March 2007
Obesity epidemic measures well monitored in New Zealand
The New Zealand Government’s recent $76 million investment in a variety of initiatives to curb the obesity epidemic will be well monitored and evaluated to allow planners to better focus on future programmes.
The Ministry of Health’s Deputy Director General, Dr Don Matheson, said today the Ministry’s Healthy Eating Healthy Action (HEHA) Strategy supports a “thorough” monitoring and evaluation programme to measure the impact of government initiatives aimed at fighting the obesity epidemic.
“ A key focus of the HEHA programme is to promote healthy eating and healthy action, and all the initiatives are strongly underpinned by sound research and monitoring,” said Dr Matheson.
The first key HEHA evaluation of the high profile Fruit in Schools programme, which provides a free piece of fruit for every child every day at around 270 low-decile schools around New Zealand, is due in April. Initial reports show the programme is having considerable positive results, said Dr Matheson.
“ We are developing a comprehensive evaluation of the overall HEHA Strategy and of the individual initiatives, producing regular food and nutrition monitoring reports, developing a monitoring and evaluation tool for providers and establishing a research database and gap analysis tool,” said Dr Matheson.
Other components of the HEHA monitoring and evaluation programme include the establishment of a DHB-led evaluation fund which is aimed at supporting the evaluation of regional, district and local initiatives currently taking place – or planned - in the nutrition and physical activity arena.
Dr Matheson said these monitoring and evaluation components varied in their stage of development:
“ The overall HEHA Strategy evaluation approach and measurement framework have been developed. Many key stakeholders, and an expert advisory group, have provided input into the development of a framework. The detailed scoping and methods development work will be completed by December 2007.
_ It is critical to remember that addressing the overweight and obesity issues of New Zealanders requires a profound societal change. No other western country has cracked it yet, but the HEHA programme is a positive step in the right direction. It’s also important that we carefully evaluate and learn both from our own and global programmes about what works and what doesn’t, so that we can keep heading in the right direction.”
Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health (NZ).