New health group set up to tackle much-needed health prevention measures

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One-third of premature death and disability in New Zealand is caused by smoking, alcohol, obesity and unhealthy diets, yet less than a half a percent of the health budget is spent on preventing that damage, say a new health group launched in parliament. Over 25 health-related groups and 55 health professors have created an historic, new umbrella organisation, the Health Coalition Aotearoa, to work together to reduce the harm from tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods and beverages. "There is an enormous mismatch between the damage caused by these products, including the huge costs of treating the diseases they cause, and the trivial amount invested in preventing that damage in the first place. That is the gap that we want to help close," says Professor Boyd Swinburn, spokesperson for the Health Coalition.