Outdoors Recreation Can Reduce Obesity
Government needs to give far greater priority to outdoor recreation in order to counter New Zealand’s bulging rise in obesity says the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ).
“Arguably government policies directly or indirectly have reduced encouragement for New Zealanders to actively participate in outdoor recreation such as tramping, fishing, hunting and other forms of outdoor recreation,” said Bill Benfield co-chairman CORANZ.
Mr Benfield said he was startled in googling OECD obesity rates to find New Zealand was third ranked in the “fattest nations.”
“That’s a national disgrace and particularly a reflection of the low ranking outdoor recreation has in the Department of Conservation policies and priorities and various government policies that erode outdoor resources and opportunities for the public.”
Mr Benfield cited government policies such as widespread blanket spreading of poisons like 1080, over-fishing of and mismanagement of inshore fisheries, failure by DOC to maintain huts and tracks in mountains, allowing foreign purchasers of back country to erect locked gates and commercial exploitation of public fishing and hunting values as examples of adverse impact on outdoor recreation.
Besides obesity was a major public health issue in New Zealand, putting an avoidable burden on health services and costing more of the public’s money. Economically the swelling obesity rate was a costly disaster.
“Diet is a major part of the problem but so too is the lack of exercise,” he said.
Government poured money into elite sports for a few champions but ignored the needs of the 4.5 million Kiwis.
“Government even willingly donates tens of millions of dollars to an ultra-rich boys‘ yacht race. A glaring example of hopelessly wrong priorities,” said Mr Benfield.
CORANZ had recently sent an election charter to political parties to assess outdoor recreation and environmental policies. One of the key priority areas is to review the Department of Conservation and to insert recreation into the name making it the Department of Conservation and Outdoor Recreation (DOCOR).
“In this way DOC would be tangibly reminded of its statutory obligations to outdoor recreation which since it’s formation in 1988 it has increasingly shoved further into the back shelf,” said Mr Benfield.