Better ways to control the “obesity” crisis
I caught last night while sitting in a Local Board meeting that the Auckland Regional Public Service and some areas of Auckland Council thought it might be a great idea to ban or (to better put it) restrict dairies in their operation or set up. This is meant to be in the name of fighting obesity.
Now to be clear the Dairy issue is entirely separate from the alcohol issue that is also floating around at the moment. But the issue at heart here is if something is wrong our first reaction should be to (over) regulate if not ban it outright. Umm no!
It is not our Council’s jurisdiction to decide what Dairies should sell nor to place bans on them either. What controls Council does have available is what zones it places down which will influence where a dairy can go. In short a dairy will usually establish itself in the Neighbourhood and Local Centre Zones, and maybe the Town Centre,and Mixed Use Zones. So if Council was so inclined it could use the Unitary Plan zones to influence where a dairy might go.
However, Council would be achieving more in tackling the obesity crisis if it got its act together on urban and transport planning. That is:
- Lots of small parks within walking distance of residential neighbourhoods (rather than a gold plated big park some distance away that you need to drive to)
- A pro-pedestrian streetscape and Town Centres so people are inclined to walk (our current environments are pretty hostile to walkers)
- A decent all day, easily accessible and most of all affordable public transport system so a family might be able to ditch a car and save $7,800/year. That cash saved might be just able to allow the families to afford better quality foods.
Otherwise the rest belongs to the realm of Social Policy via Central Government. That being Decile 1-5 schools having kitchens for quality hot (and cold) meals, decent labour provisions allowing decent wages, and paying its Iron Price so families again might be able to ditch that car and divert that $7,800/year to a better food budget.
Also dairies do form two important functions to an urban environment and a lack of dairies in new subdivisions is telling. Dairies are usually within walking distance (or even cycling of you are up for some #quaxing) to get that bottle of milk and the loaf of bread. Otherwise here comes a car trip to a Town or Metropolitan Centre (thinking Botany here) just to get those two items. Great way to cause congestion (and further fuel health issues) there from an actual lack of dairies. Dairies especially in Neighbourhood or Local Centres also form a backbone to that Centre and the local community as well. We are meant to be encouraging community here not discourage it.