Doctor planning stomach-shrinking surgery for obese Kiwi kids slams advertising 'crappy food' to youngsters

A doctor who'll next year start performing surgeries in Auckland to shrink the stomachs of obese children says a lack of government leadership against advertising "crappy food" to kids is compounding a child obesity epidemic.

Seven Sharp met New Zealand doctors Richard Barbour and Brandon Orr-Walker while they were in the US to observe a controversial procedure, laproscopic sleeve gastrectomy, which involves the removal of 80 to 85 per cent of the stomach in young patents.

The two Kiwi doctors, who'll perform the surgery in Auckland, met Dr Evan Nadler, a world leader in bariatric surgery for children at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington D.C.

Dr Nadler specialises in laproscopic sleeve gastrectomies in the US, and a pilot group of 10 Kiwi teens, between 15 and 18, will receive this surgery in Auckland.

"I'm not happy about it - but we're doing it," Dr Barbour said.

"It's an explosion. It really is an epidemic. We are the fattest country in the world almost, because we eat too much, we're too sedentary and we don't care enough."

Childhood obesity is a complex problem which Dr Barbour says is compounded by a lack of government leadership.

"I'd rather not be doing surgery on children. But we do really need to address the quality of our food supply - how we allow big companies to advertise crappy food to children, what kind of food we expose them too - all those kinds of things," he said.

Who am I to withhold that cure from you just because of your age? - American surgeon Dr Evan Nadler

But Dr Barbour doesn't see that happening anytime soon, so he and his colleagues are preparing to treat the symptoms, performing surgery on New Zealand's biggest kids.

Dr Nadler started performing the controversial surgeries at Children's National Medical Center seven years ago and says, in his mind, age is just a number.

"If you have diabetes from your weight and I have a cure, who am I to withhold that cure from you just because of your age? There is no other disease where we withhold treatment based on age," he said.

Dr Nadler says the number one risk factor for a child having a weight problem in the US is having a parent with a weight problem.

"So if you're born to a mom while she is obese, you're likely to be obese when you're a teenager."

Dr Barbour says poverty and ethnicity are the two biggest associations with obesity in New Zealand.

"So Polynesian and Maori children are much more likely to get obese and they are much more likely to suffer the negative health consequences of obesity," he said.

Two NZ doctors have gone to the US on a quest to find a drastic solution to our obesity problem. Source: Seven Sharp

'The council have no say' - Maori land squatter builds beachfront house without council consents

A long-term squatter on Maori land in Taranaki has raised the stakes by building a house on beachfront property at Waitara.

New Plymouth District Council says the structure is illegal and the Maori trust doesn't want Kevin Moore there.

But the former gang member says it is his ancestral land and he, his family and their new home won't be going anywhere.

The council says the house on the shore of East Beach is not consented, but Mr Moore says he doesn't need consent.

"The council, here on Maori land, have no say. So I just disregard what they say and just don't take no notice," he told 1 NEWS, standing in front of the house.

Mr Moore, his whanau and friends, started building the house less than two months ago without proper consents.

It is on Maori land run by the Rohutu Block Trust, with around 170 registered owners.

Mr Moore is not one of the them, but he claims ancestral links and has been squatting on the land for three years.

"We have the rights to do what we want. That's what I believe anyway," he said. 

The former Black Power member Kevin Moore was acquitted of murder in 1992, but later jailed for seven years over conspiring to pervert the course of justice in that case.   

Mr Moore says his past as a gang member shouldn't be part of the issue, despite claims of intimidation by some in the community.

He says he's taking a stand for his family, and it's about homelessness. 

"My family, they're struggling out there beyond that gate there to get a house to live in. There's about 10 people living in one house."

Both the Rohutu Block Trust and the New Plymouth District Council wouldn't appear on camera for 1 NEWS about the issue.

But in a statement, the council said it's organising to meet with the trustees about having the buildings consented. 

Meanwhile Kevin Moore says he's had the property blessed, and he, his family and their new home won't be going anywhere.

A large house that popped up in Taranaki has been deemed illegal by the local council, but the builder isn't listening. Source: 1 NEWS


Watch: 'I was a little snobby princess b***h' – Millie Elder-Holmes talks about how she transformed into a better person

Millie Elder-Holmes has spoken candidly about how she  transformed from being a "real b***h" when she was younger, into an empathetic human being, during a candid Q & A on social media yesterday.

The daughter of the late Sir Paul Holmes let it all out when asked what her favourite thing was about herself by a user of the Sarahah app.

"My favourite thing about myself is probably my ability to have changed my mindset because when I was young I was a real b***h.

"I'm not going to lie about it. I was a f**king little b***h. Like a little snobby princess b***h. And I used to judge people a lot," she said.

Ms Elder-Holmes went on to say that she came to a self-realisation after struggling with meth addiction in the public eye.

"After I went through my addiction and all of my really embarrassing things publicly, I learn to eat a little bit of humble pie.  

"I understood how it felt to have people be mean to you on such a huge scale and now I really empathize for others and how they feel so that's my favourite thing about myself."

She also delved deeper into her struggles with meth and how she was able to beat it with the support of her former partner, Connor Morris, and his family.

"When my dad tried to put me in rehab and everything I just didn’t go for it at all. But when me and Connor decided to do it together, and with his family supporting us, they really helped me, I wouldn't have been able to do it without them," she said.

Ms Elder-Holmes has been drug free for over seven years now and runs progressive lifestyle blog Clean Eats NZ from her home in Greece.