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“Who cares about New Zealand’s Waistline?” – Wellington Public Symposium

Wednesday 1 September 2010 2:04pm

Waist with measuring tape around it full width

What can be done at all levels of New Zealand society to reduce people’s risk of obesity and its related illnesses? This question will be tackled next month at a unique public symposium where health researchers will engage with representatives from key sectors of society to explore potential measures.

Among the speakers at the Wellington public symposium “Who cares about New Zealand’s Waistline?” are Associate Minister of Health Hon Tariana Turia, McDonald’s New Zealand Managing Director Mark Hawthorne and Unite Union National Secretary Matt McCarten.

The full-day event, which is free to attend, is being held on Monday 18 October at the Old Government Buildings on Lambton Quay. It is organised by the University of Otago’s Edgar National Centre for Diabetes and Obesity Research (ENCDOR), in conjunction with the University’s Centre for Translational Research in Chronic
Diseases and the Prior Policy Centre.

ENCDOR Director Professor Jim Mann says that experts in the fields of obesity, nutrition, Maori health and public health will speak at the gathering along with representatives from government, business, union, media and education sectors.

“The rising tide of obesity and associated health issues has implications for the whole of New Zealand society. This symposium provides a forum for exploring the public health measures available and encouraging groups from government down to families to act on this growing problem,” Professor Mann says.

The event’s approach is based on the concept that all groups and sectors within society share responsibility for making policy and taking decisions which have an effect on public health, he says.

The 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey found that one in three adults were overweight (36.3%) and one in four obese (26.5%), while one in five children aged 2 to 14 years were overweight (20.9%) and one in twelve was obese (8.3%).

During the symposium the researchers will present the case for evidence-based action and the sector representatives will respond regarding what has been done and could be done in New Zealand to combat obesity.

“We are very excited to be running the first event of this kind to address these issues in New Zealand and are looking forward to robust discussions and new understandings,” he says.

Speakers will include:

  • The Hon Tariana Turia (Associate Minister of Health)
  • Robert Beaglehole (Co-director, International Public Health Consultants, Auckland)
  • Heather Gifford (Director, Whakauae Research for Maori Health and Development)
  • Mark Hawthorne (Managing Director, McDonald’s New Zealand)
  • Matt McCarten (National Secretary, Unite Union)
  • Jim Mann (Professor of Human Nutrition and Medicine, University of Otago)
  • Lorelei Mason (Health Reporter, ONE News)
  • Shane Ngatai (Principal, Rhode Street School, Hamilton)
  • Grant Schofield (Professor of Public Health, AUT University)
  • Moana Tane (Chief Executive, Te Hotu Manawa Maori)
  • Rachael Taylor (Karitane Senior Research Fellow in Early Childhood Obesity, University of Otago)
  • Jim Tully (Head of School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Canterbury)

Members of the public and media are welcome to attend the event, but early registration is essential as places will be allocated on a ‘first in first served’ basis.

What: “Who cares about New Zealand’s Waistline?”
Where: Law Lecture Theatre GBLT2, Old Government Buildings, Lambton Quay, Wellington
When: Monday 18 October, 9.30 am to 5pm

To register, please email Margaret Johnston (

For more information, contact

Professor Jim Mann, Director
Edgar National Centre for Diabetes and Obesity Research
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 7719

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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