We call upon our Government to investigate throughly the principles of these centres and to build a small number here in both urban and rural districts on a pilot basis in order to assess them and adapt them to New Zealand's needs. Only by providing exercise facilities which will appeal to everyone of all ages and conditions can we attack the obesity epidemic which threatens us all.  The potential benefits are great, doctors will be encouraged to refer many of their patients to the centres where they can receive expert professional guidance and an exercise programme tailored to their needs and capabilities.


Initially this will involve a substantial investment (which is very small compared with entertainment projects such as stadiums!) but in the long run much money and valuable resources will be saved as people learn to look after their own health. We can also expect an improvement in the mental state of many people as exercise helps to combat depression. Our young people will also benefit and  we should even see a reduction in criminal offending of some kinds.    


Our intention here has not been to promote competitive sport, which has totally different aims and philosophy, but to improve the health of everyone, young and old, with a wide range of abilities. However, it is clear that if more people take part in physical activities, many will find that they have the innate ability that will enable them to do well in competition, which will certainly improve New Zealand's standing as a sporting nation.


We propose a pilot scheme of building perhaps

eight centres

four in urban and

four in rural districts

Some of the important points to be considered:


A good relationship with local medical practitioners and integration with all community health professionals, social workers, marae and schools.


Provision for people of all types, younger, older, non-athletic, disabled, frail, and sensitive to the needs of people of all racial groups.


A price schedule within everyone's reach.


A supportive and non-threatening environment.


Any competitiveness restricted to a few, low key appropriate occasions.


There should be a range of activities, some not especially health-promoting but used to attract patrons, for example chess clubs. Community input is important.


It is far better to have many smaller centres than a few large ones. They are less intimidating, and travelling distances will be minimised


Schools should be able to use the centres at suitable times.


When a new centre is planned, liaison with local interested groups and any existing commercial ventures will avoid opposition and conflict.


An optimistic view of the probable usage per head of population should be held as any existing patterns will become obsolete with enlightened management methods and better public perception of the centres.


How about better food labelling and taxes on sweet drinks?

  

Excellent! But do you really think that will be enough? We’ve aIready gone some way in that direction and the move does nothing to increase opportunities for exercise and little to point people to a better diet. More positive measures are urgently needed.

Action NOW please !