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Tough line on obesity

LIZ WILLIS
Last updated 07:44 12/10/2012
Obesity

FACT FINDING: Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg with Dr Helen MacDonald, left, and Mary Baldwin of Apollo Health Centre.

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Obesity health warnings need to start confronting New Zealanders, Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg says.

Mr Springborg visited a North Shore health centre and was interviewed about his fact-finding tour and what Kiwis could do better.

Graphic health warnings tell people smoking will destroy their lives and they need to be told that about being overweight too, he says.

“There's a real reluctance but you can't tip-toe around it.”

Preventable illness related to obesity and lifestyle contributes to 60 per cent of healthcare costs, Mr Springborg says.

High costs related to treating heart and diabetes problems, he says, could be slashed by a strong national preventative programme.

Mr Springborg was part of a delegation visiting New Zealand to find out more about the health system because of Australian reforms.

He visited Apollo Health and Wellness Centre that is part of New Zealand's integrated health system co-ordinating care and improving patient access to treatment from doctors, specialists and hospitals.

The Albany health centre has an accredited accident and emergency centre, doctors and range of specialist services on site.

Mr Springborg says health reforms in Australia include a new funding model and the introduction of health boards.

Funding is complicated in Australia by the fact the Commonwealth funds primary and preventative care and the State looks after hospital care.

Mr Springborg says in general New Zealand's single government funding source makes collaboration easier.

Both countries face the same problems of providing good healthcare in tough economic times, he says.

Mr Springborg says cutting waste, improving systems and strong public health messages are key.

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