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$2.3M to help mums and families make good food choices for their children

July 22 2013

The Government is investing $2.28 million to help mums and their families make better food choices for themselves and their babies.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says the Government is investing in a new workforce development programme for health professionals who care for pregnant women and babies.

“The new training programme will give front-line health workers the latest evidence-based research into how pregnancy and early life events can influence long term health outcomes,” Mr Ryall says.

“And, in a New Zealand first, part of the programme will be based on the ‘healthy conversations’ skills training already used successfully overseas and developed by researchers at the University of Southampton.

“Health workers learn how to open up positive conversations with women about up to date healthy weight management, physical activity and nutrition - both during pregnancy and throughout children’s’ early years.

“This is being shown to give families the knowledge to help them take control and influence their health, and has been proven to lead to sustained behaviour changes,” Mr Ryall says.

“In particular, it has shown it can support disadvantaged families to choose realistic ways to focus on good health.”

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says this is one in a series of investments the Government is making to help families around the country give their children a healthy start.

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says this is one in a series of investments the Government is making to help families around the country give their children a healthy start.

“Recent international research evidence and advice from Professor Sir Peter Gluckman suggests that preconditions for overweight and obesity are set very early,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“That’s why the government is focussing on improving women’s health in pregnancy and the postnatal period by promoting healthy eating and physical activity – and good nutrition for infants and toddlers.”

The new programme will be run by Gravida: National Centre for Growth and Development, one of New Zealand’s Centres of Research Excellence that focuses on discovering what ‘early life’ events affect long term health outcomes.

Its members are drawn from New Zealand’s universities, medical, nutrition and public health schools, and a range of research institutes, and they aim to translate their cutting edge research into clinical practice, education programmes and public outreach that improve the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Funding for the workforce training programme is from within the Ministry of Health’s existing budget. The $2.28 million announced is initially over three years and the project will be fully evaluated for potential further roll out.

Gravida has collaborated with The National Heart Foundation to deliver this project as well as Plunket, the NZ College of Midwives and Tipu Ora

“The Government is committed to New Zealand children getting the best possible start in life and projects like this will be a great help to families,” Mr Ryall says.

“This initiative will support work being done by a whole range of organisations to help mums and families make positive nutrition choices for their children,” Mrs Goodhew says.

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