Health starts where we live – at home, work, school and in our neighbourhood
Our city has a beautiful outdoors, a mild climate, clean air and water, and a plentiful and nutritious food supply. Yet more Aucklanders are getting obesity related diseases such as diabetes than in other regions. Many of us carry too much weight and we also eat fewer vegetables and get less exercise than other New Zealanders.
Our environments - where we live, learn, work and play - make unhealthy choices the easiest. We want to eat better food, be physically active and raise healthy children, but are thwarted by high calorie food at every turn, by technology, car dependence and by busy, stressed lives.
Everyone should have the opportunity to live long lives, regardless of income, education or ethnic group. We can improve Auckland so it is a healthy place for everyone.
There have been some changes for the better -
- Walking school buses
- The rise of local markets selling low cost produce
- Food guidelines in early childhood centres
- Workplace health programmes
- Community and school vegetable gardens
- Rise in the use of public transport and cycling
- Simple food labelling to be introduced so people can choose the right products
There’s still more that can be done
- Cycleways and shared roads so people can walk or cycle safely
- All neighbourhoods have supermarkets or fresh food shops
- Everyone lives close to a safe, attractive park or playground
- Workplaces that encourage physical activity and good food on site
- Opportunities for organised and for unstructured physical activities
- Unhealthy food is less available in schools, workplaces and at community events.
- Mixed landuse with shops, services and public transport in walking distance
- Choices of buses, trains or ferries for when and where you need to go.
It’s the System
It’s our modern lifestyle - car reliance, children watching screens instead of being outside, sedentary jobs and leisure, convenience meals, supersized meals, cheap food everywhere and at any time, junk food marketing, parents’ perceptions of children’s safety outdoors - the list goes on. Physical activity used to be built into our lives, now it is something we have to do intentionally. Now it is seen to require time, money and motivation.
So while people can still make the right choices for themselves and their families, they need communities, workplaces and schools to help them, not make it harder. Individuals can take responsibility for their own health, but they can’t build safer roads, walkways and accessible green spaces.
Big Changes, Small Changes
Healthy Auckland Together is a project involving the three District Health Boards, Auckland Regional Public Health, Auckland City, Auckland Transport, Auckland University, the Heart Foundation, the Ministry of Health and others representing Maori, Pacific peoples and those with disabilities.
These groups are working together to change the bigger picture – the places we live, learn, work and play. They are committed to putting health and wellbeing at the centre of plans and practices in our city –such as in urban design, food retail, transport planning and school communities.