While I’m on the topic of cycling there’s a another survey here at Vorb, New Zealand’s most popular website for cyclists, Mountain Bike New Zealand posed a quick set of questions to all the political parties. As yet they have only received a response from Kevin Hague of the Greens. Given his background in both cycling and health, especially preventative health, I though his answer to Question Four was worth sharing here:
4. Health care spending takes up a significant portion of our tax dollars. It’s been shown that an active lifestyle leads to better health and that in turn would lessen the burden on the health care system. What would your party do to encourage people to lead a healthy and active lifestyle?
This is an incredibly important question, because our health services are now in danger of being swamped by chronic disease like diabetes and heart disease. While there is quite a lot of focus now on obesity, many of these diseases can be seen as diseases of inactivity. The Green Party has recently released a Preventative Health Strategy, the centrepiece of which is a fivefold increase in the proportion of health spending that is used to keep people well in the first place (to 10%), including the promotion of physical activity.
Our responses to Vorb and to CAN provide quite a lot of detail about this, but clearly we need to reach people of all ages (because increased activity benefits absolutely everybody) but particularly children and young people, because today’s children are the first generation to actually face a lower life expectancy than their parents due to inactivity and diet. Focus has to be twofold, with an increase to everyday activity (e.g. making it safe for children to cycle or walk to school) and an increase in organised sport. Reality is that many different solutions will be required, and the Green Party will be keen to work with groups like MTBNZ to work out how best we can do this if we gain sufficient parliamentary influence to be able to negotiate our policy into action.