New report highlights importance of how we eat


Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
Minister of Health

Minister for Sport and Recreation



16 June 2017

Health Minister and Sport & Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman has welcomed the release of ‘How We Eat’, a report that assesses evidence on eating behaviours and their influence on diet and body size.

“We all know a healthy diet is important, but this report also highlights how peoples’ eating behaviours also make a significant difference,” says Dr Coleman.

“There have been a number of studies on eating behaviour but this report brings together a wide body of evidence and, for the first time, assesses what behaviours have the most impact.”

‘How We Eat’ is designed to help health practitioners but can be of benefit to anyone interested in healthy eating and living. It will support the work being carried out under the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan, especially the ‘Big Change Starts Small’ campaign.

“Making a few simple changes to how we eat can add up to significant benefits to our health,” says Dr Coleman.

Key findings from the research which support healthy eating habits include:

  • Avoiding watching TV when eating – people tend to eat more in front of a screen.
  • The importance of adults providing a good example for children, especially eating fruit and vegetables.
  • Involving children in preparing meals and eating together as a family.
  • Eating a variety of foods and flavours when pregnant or breastfeeding (including bitter vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower) can help children accept vegetables in early childhood.

The report is based on research commissioned by the Ministry of Health and carried out by Auckland University researchers Sarah Gerritsen and Associate Professor Clare Wall. It covers breastfeeding, parental feeding practices, parenting style, adult role modelling, responsive eating, mealtimes and food literacy.

‘How we Eat’ was presented at the Activity and Nutrition Aotearoa Conference.  It is available on the Ministry of Health website here.

Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129




Last updated: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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