New Zealand, the ‘land of the long white cloud’, is not traditionally thought of as a diabetes hotspot. Western perception of New Zealand is generally as a rugged and outdoors country. However, like so many other countries in the developed world, New Zealand is in the throes of an obesity epidemic which is causing a significant threat to the healthcare system.
The news comes following a decision by the New Zealand Parliament’s Health Committee to hold a full inquiry into the obesity epidemic. One politician was reported as calling obesity “arguably the most serious public health crisis confronting New Zealand.” Surveys have indicated that as many as 1.5 million New Zealanders are obese. The total population of New Zealand is only 4.2 million. The scope of obesity is not limited to adults either, with an estimated third of New Zealand’s children either overweight or obese.
The problem was blamed on societal pressures to eat high-fat, high-sugar foods and drinks. The link between obesity and type 2 diabetes was recognised, and the expected pressure of a diabetes epidemic would overwhelm healthcare resources.
The inquiry requires members of the public, experts in health, and representatives of the food industry to come forward with submissions. These may include a fatty foods tax and restricted advertising.

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