Spreydon, Heathcote for obesity project

The Spreydon-Heathcote ward is one of 10 communities selected to be part of the Government's anti-obesity programme, Healthy Families NZ.

Communities with higher than average rates of "lifestyle" diseases such as diabetes were selected from around New Zealand.

The only other community from the South Island selected for the programme was Invercargill.

Pacific Trust Canterbury has been chosen to lead the $2.3 million initiative in Christchurch, which will help families improve their health, health minister Tony Ryall said.

"Healthy Families NZ is a new $40 million initiative which aims to improve people's health where they live, learn, work and play in order to prevent obesity," says Ryall.

Pacific Trust Canterbury, He Oranga Pounamu, Pegasus, Healthy Christchurch, Sport Canterbury, South West Baptist Church, the Cancer Society, Heart Foundation and the Methodist Mission will deliver the programme. A health promotion workforce would work with schools, early childhood education centres, workplaces and sports clubs to encourage and support healthy lifestyle choices.

Ryall said the programme was based on the Healthy Together Victoria programme in Australia, "one of the very few anti-obesity programmes that actually work."

"There's really two approaches, there's the grassroots community approach or the government knows best approach, and what the Victorians found was the first approach worked best."

He defended the late rollout of the programme, and said the Government had spent $70 million a year in obesity related programmes. "We've been hunting for a programme that really delivers results."

Professor Boyd Swinburn, Auckland University's obesity expert, supported the programme. He was employed by Deakin University which worked closely with the Victorian department of health on Healthy Together Victoria. Fairfax NZ

The Press