Coca-Cola says 'no single fix for obesity', praises Coleman's fat-fighting plan

Jonathan Coleman also said there was no single fix for obesity.

Coca-Cola Amatil NZ, the local unit of the world's biggest beverage company, has praised Health Minister Jonathan Coleman's plans to combat childhood obesity, saying there is no "single fix" for the problem.

The company's local managing director, Chris Litchfield, says Coca-Cola NZ in 2013 "joined the front line in the fight against obesity by publicly pledging a series of business commitments intended to give kiwis more choice, more information and more opportunities to get active." That involved making smaller packages more widely available, offering a wider selection of low-kilojoule beverages, providing "more transparent" nutritional information and sponsoring physical activity programmes.

The company's products include Powerade, one of the official sponsors of the All Blacks, the Silver Ferns and the Black Caps.

Coleman also said there was no single fix for obesity. He has come under fire from some health workers for not imposing a tax on high-sugar products among 22 initiatives flagged yesterday in its Childhood Obesity Plan, which includes adding childhood obesity to the government's health targets programme starting on July 1, 2016. Children's Commissioner Russell Wills, a qualified paediatrician, said he doubted the plan would reduce obesity and could even harm children, Fairfax reported.

The most effective solutions involved changing the "obesogenic environment" that surrounded children with junk food and bombarded them with advertising, he was reported as saying.

The 22 new and existing initiatives are aimed at tackling obesity in young people, focussing on education, health checks and physical activity.

The food industry had argued against any sort of levy of foods high in sugar, fat or salt. Instead it helped develop a "health star rating" similar to the energy efficiency rating scheme for home appliances, while Frucor and Coca-Cola Amatil voluntarily agreed in 2009 not to sell 'energy' drinks and sugar-sweetened soft drinks in schools, a move they say was thwarted by schools buying the drinks from third parties. Industry also has voluntary codes for targeting children in advertising.

"Being overweight or obese is expected to overtake tobacco as the leading preventable risk to health in New Zealand within the next 12 months," Coleman said yesterday.

The NZ Food and Grocery Council and the Taxpayers' Union have welcomed the government's announcement .

(BusinessDesk)

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