Big love: government agencies face up to childhood obesity as sports stars give Kiwi parents some food for thought—UPDATED

Obesity is not a new issue for New Zealand, but a new campaign by the Ministry of Health and the Health Promotion Agency (HPA) targeting childhood obesity is a first.

According to the Ministry of Health we have the third highest adult obesity rate in the OECD, and the rates are rising. Almost one in three adult New Zealanders (over 15 years) is obese, and one in ten children.

Big change starts small‘, which was created by Y&R and shot by Fish, is aimed at reducing these numbers by highlighting how parents and caregivers give their children too much food, and, specifically, too much junk food, as an expression of their love. There is also a focus on inactivity, and how children spend too much time on sedentary activities like computer games. 

Health Minister and Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman says a child’s taste preferences and habits stay with them for the rest of their lives. Some taste preferences and habits may not translate into obesity during childhood, but may, if left unchanged, increase their chance of becoming obese as an adult.

New Zealand is one the first OECD countries to have a target and comprehensive plan to tackle childhood obesity. It is one of 22 initiatives in the Childhood Obesity Plan announced recently. 

“Big change starts small is the theme of the campaign which encourages people to start making small changes to have a long term, impact on our children’s health and wellbeing. Obesity is a serious issue and the idea of starting with small changes is one we can all get behind,” says Dr Coleman.

The campaign running through December is fronted by a number of sports stars, including Olympian Valerie Adams, Silver Fern captain Casey Kopua, ex-All Black Israel Dagg, Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum and Warriors star Shaun Johnson.

Coleman says they have been chosen because they are well known, well liked and respected role models.

“As minister for both heath and sport and recreation, I think it’s great to be able to find ways to bring the two portfolios together.”

The sports stars appear in television and radio ads which can be viewed on the campaign’s supporting website Eat Move Live. Also featured is a range of recipe and activity ideas for the family.

While scare tactics can be seen in Valerie Adams’ ads about children dying before their parents, the approach to children’s obesity is gentle compared to these international campaigns.


Client: Health Promotion Agency Manager Programme Marketing and Communications: Wendy Billingsley Senior Account Lead, Marketing and Communications: Helen Wood Manager Nutrition & Physical Activity, Marketing and Communications: Dr Mary-Ann Carter Agency: Y&R NZ CEO/CCO: Josh Moore Creative Director: Seymour Pope Senior Art Director: Lisa Dupre Head of Production Liz Rosby Senior TV producer: Jane Mill Managing Director, Wellington: Tim Ellis Account Director: Carmen Sellwood General Manager Media, Wellington: Grant Maxwell Senior Media Planner: Kate Thomson Head of Planning: Jono Key Head of Digital: Greg Whitham Digital Team: Josh Rollo, Pat Co Production Company: Fish Director: James Soloman Producer: Leela Menon DOP:Ian McCarroll Editor: Alex O’Shaughnessy Sound Mix: Liquid Studios – Craig Matuschka

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