4.0 Services and programmes available in the community to improve health issues related to child obesity

This section explores respondents’ awareness, experience and views of services and programmes available in their community to improve health issues relating to child obesity.

4.1 Awareness of services and programmes relating to child obesity


Awareness of services and programmes relating to child obesity was very high amongst the Pasifika respondents we spoke to, but practically non-existent amongst the Māori respondents who live outside the South Auckland area (i.e. those living in the Orakei and Waitemata areas).

Māori parents were not aware of any programmes or services currently available in their community to address child obesity

One Māori mother said that she had taken her child to the doctor as she was concerned about his weight. The child was now seeing a dietician.

Aside from the above example, none of the Māori respondents we spoke to were aware of any services or programmes currently available in their community specifically designed to address the issue of child obesity. A few initiatives such as “5+ a Day” and “Breakfast in Schools” were mentioned, but respondents believed that both of these programmes had been cancelled due to a lack of Government funding.

The Government can play their part. I mean back in the day, I remember there was a lot of emphasis on healthy eating; ‘5+ a day’ – all those kinds of initiatives. That’s all gone now.

Pasifika parents were aware of many services and programmes available in South Auckland

In contrast, Pasifika respondents described a number of services and programmes that are currently available in South Auckland, ranging from healthy eating programmes in schools through to community-run exercise programmes. 

Programme/service Description (as provided by the focus group participants)
Zumba classes
(publicly funded)

Exercise programme run through the Otara Leisure Centre. Zumba classes are held two nights a week. Available to the general public, but mainly consists of Pasifika people, from primary school age through to seniors. Admission fee is $4. Classes are very popular and well-attended. Mainly promoted through word of mouth.

Respondents did discuss whether or not they would consider attending one of these classes. While some did express interest in taking part, others were put off by the $4 entrance fee. 
Fruit in Schools
(publicly funded)

Seasonal fruit is donated to South Auckland primary schools by local suppliers/wholesalers. Children then load the fruit into buckets which are made available for students to help themselves. Deliveries are made twice a week.

The initiative encourages children to try fruit (in some cases for the first time), by following the other children’s example.
Breakfast Club
(not publicly funded)

Breakfast Clubs are available in a number of South Auckland primary and intermediate schools. While organised through the schools, the initiative is supported by other organisations such as Rotary and Lions Clubs and local businesses (i.e. Hubbards) who donate the food.

The Breakfast Club provides students with breakfast at the school, generally consisting of cereal, toast and a drink.

Some had become aware of the Breakfast Club through their child’s school, although most recalled seeing it on a 2012 episode of Campbell Live.

Healthy Eating programme/policies
(publicly funded) 

Healthy Eating programmes involved schools placing restrictions on the type of food students are allowed to bring to school. A Heart Foundation representative is also invited to visit the school to talk to the children about nutrition.

Having a representative advise Pasifika children about the types of food they should (or should not) be eating was not considered to be a very effective approach. Respondents argued that regardless of what the children might want to eat, parents have the final say on what food their child will be given.

Fit-life Otara Boot Camp
(not publicly funded) 

The Fit-life Boot Camp is a free exercise and nutrition programme. This outdoor programme runs for 6-8 weeks, with a 6:00 am start, three days a week. Anyone can sign up for the programme and while most participants are adults, children and teenagers are also able to attend. Participants represent a range of fitness levels from those who are obese or overweight, through to physically fit sports people looking to supplement their existing fitness regime. Most of those who attend are Pasifika or Māori.

The programme is delivered by professionals in the fitness industry who are from South Auckland.

Originally funded by the DHB, then run by a local church group, the Fit-life Boot Camp is now funded by East Tamaki Healthcare.

The programme is promoted through Facebook and by word of mouth.

Youth exercise programme for the morbidly obese
(not publicly funded) 

One respondent mentioned having seen a notice at the Otara Leisure Centre about a youth exercise programme that she thought her teenage sons might be interested in. 

Upon further investigation she discovered the entry requirement for the programme was that participants were ‘morbidly obese’. This would be determined through an initial home-based assessment. The respondent said her sons were not obese so she did not take it any further.

She was not sure who funded the programme or how effective it was. 
Active Families
(publicly funded)

Active Families is an exercise and nutrition programme designed for families. The programme is held one night a week over three months. Parents who attend with their children take part in physical games and activities (dodge ball, tag, rounders, etc.).

The programme also provides education around nutrition (food pyramid, portion sizing, etc.).

Participants are referred to the programme by their GP. The programme is provided by Otara Health and held at the Otara Leisure Centre. 

GI Healthy Kai
(publicly funded) 

This is an initiative run by bakeries and other food retailers in Glen Innes. Participating retailers display posters encouraging customers to make healthy food choices over the unhealthy choices such as pies and chips (e.g. pie vs. sandwich or water vs. soft drink).

The respondent who mentioned this initiative thought it was a good idea, and said it had encouraged her to consider buying healthier lunches. 

Fanau FAB (Food Activity Behaviour)
(publicly funded) 

Fanau Fab is a South Auckland-based programme that aims to help Pasifika families become physically active through playing games, having fun and walking. It also provides nutrition advice and practical tips on how to make healthy food more appealing to children.

The respondent who mentioned this programme said he found out about it through a promotion run by Lapi Mariner (a Samoan musician, and ambassador for the University of Auckland’s Fanau FAB research programme). 
Jump Jam
(not publicly funded)

Exercise/aerobic class run in primary schools, with children spending up to an hour dancing/exercising to choreographed popular music.

In some schools the Jump Jam class is run first thing in the morning to get the children energised and ready for the day ahead. Jump Jam is not only fun, but also helpful in getting children of all shapes and sizes involved in physical activity. 

4.2 Opinions of the services and programmes that had been attended were generally positive 


Opinions of the programmes and services that had been attended were generally positive. 

Māori parents’ opinions of services and programmes relating to child obesity 

Only one of the Māori respondents we spoke to reported having been involved in any specific service or programme relating to child obesity. This is described in the table below.

Programme/service Perceived effectiveness of the programme


As mentioned earlier, one of the Māori mothers said her son had been referred to a dietician to try and address his obesity issue. They had only recently started seeing the dietician, although the respondent said she was likely to continue with the service as she was concerned about the effect his weight was having on his health.

The service was provided free of charge and the dietician was Māori. The respondent said that if the dietician was not Māori she would not have gone because she would have felt too uncomfortable.

Pasifika parents’ opinions of services and programmes relating to child obesity

A number of Pasifika parents reported having been involved in services and programmes in South Auckland, designed to address child health issues relating to obesity. Their views on these services and programmes are provided below.

Programme/service Perceived effectiveness of the programme
Fanau FAB 
(publicly funded)
Concerned about his daughter’s weight, one of the Pasifika fathers was encouraged to enrol his family on a local community programme called Fanau FAB.
Initially sceptical about the programme’s hype, the respondent admitted that one of the key motivators for signing up to Fanau FAB was the fact that they offered petrol voucher incentives to those who reached their goals.
However, once the family started on the programme, they found it very effective. The daughter is now losing weight. The family enjoy the exercise and have also gained some useful practical advice on nutrition and how to prepare healthy food in a way that makes it more appealing for children to eat.
He was also impressed with the level of enthusiasm and support offered by the programme team, who keep in regular contact with the family encouraging and motivating them to continue working towards their goals.
The family has since signed up for a second 10-week programme.
The only concern this respondent had about this programme was in one of the initial sessions, where the children were separated from their parents to take part in a group discussion. He said his children are quite young and very shy and were not comfortable being separated in this way. He did raise this with the programme provider and felt they accepted his feedback in a positive way.
Breakfast Club
(not publicly funded)
Two of the Pasifika respondents were teachers who worked in schools that ran a Breakfast Club programme. However, many other parents were at least aware of the initiative.
While views on the Breakfast Club concept were generally positive, a small number of respondents raised concerns. One was that children could ‘double-dip’ by having breakfast at home, then have a second breakfast when they get to school. Another concern was that the Breakfast Club shifts responsibility away from its rightful place (i.e. from the parents).
Active Families
(publicly funded)
One of the Pasifika fathers attended this programme with his two young children. Whilst they found the programme ‘a lot of fun’, it was not considered to be effective because it was not held often enough to maintain its momentum.
The programme involved a one-hour session, once a week for 12 weeks. In between sessions there was no follow up or support which led the respondent to lose motivation.
Although the provider did ask participants for feedback or suggestions as to how the programme could be improved, the father said he didn’t want to sound ungrateful so he did not raise any concerns.
Fit-life Otara Boot camp
(not publicly funded)
One of the Pasifika fathers had attended the Fit-life Boot Camp. Although some Pasifika children did participate in the programme, his own children (aged 8 and 9 years) did not take part because it was too early in the morning.
Being obese himself, he was initially reluctant to be seen exercising in public. However, he found that other participants were very supportive and inspired by the fact that he was taking part. 
He also appreciated the support and encouragement received from the physical instructors, both during and between sessions.