Rebalancing our food systems

A recent report by the Public Health Advisory Committee calls for major recommendations to address our unbalanced food system. The calls to action recognise the need for food producers, the food industry, people who buy, sell, and consume food and the government which regulates food to work better together to enable consumers better access to healthy affordable food in the communities in which they live.

The elimination of food insecurity is a priority action for all New Zealanders. Tackling poverty and key measures to improve food affordability especially for fruit and vegetables and other core food items are recommended.

Government and community led initiatives are needed more than ever. Food related illness is costly. For example, the direct health system costs for obesity are estimated at $2 billion a year and may lead to a total cost to society of $4-9 billion (i.e. through loss of productive workforce) (Barton & Love, 2021).

Our Health Minister has reported “Pursuing the recommendations in this report is not a priority for the Government. There are far more pressing issues in the health sector that need addressing at the moment.”

The Public Health Advisory Committee acknowledges the range of work in communities that support an improved food system. Local solutions can improve food environments and the health of people, and these approaches need to be supported and made more sustainable.

Carol Wham, Scientific Director, NZNF

Barton B, Love T (2021). Economic impact of excess weight in Aotearoa: Collating, evaluating, and updating the evidence. Auckland, New Zealand: Hāpai te Hauora and Sapere.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Last modified: July 9, 2024