Safe cycling routes needed to head off obesity epidemic

Cycling advocates say safe cycling routes are needed to head off the obesity epidemic.

New research from Auckland University researchers shows that three quarters of obese children are at greater risk of long-term heart disease.

CAN spokesman Patrick Morgan says that telling people what to eat or to exercise more won't solve the problem.

"Education alone can not work. We also need to redesign our physical environment to make physical activity easy."

He says the Government's $350 million investment in the Urban Cycleways Programme is a good start, but that we need to pick up the pace.

Government figures show an estimated 85,000 children in New Zealand between two and 14 are obese.

"We risk a generation of people suffering from avoidable poor health. The health system could be overwhelmed by obesity-related costs."

"The good news is that we can fix the problem. This requires redesigning our streets for safe and attractive walking and cycling, for people of all ages."

He says that means safer urban speeds, protected cycleways on busy roads, better intersection designs, and education for all road users.

He says programmes such as Bikes in Schools and Pedal Ready bike skills are also helpful.