National leader Judith Collins says Kiwis shouldn't blame the "system" for obesity, because it is “generally” a weakness that people need to take personal responsibility for.
On the campaign trail today, Collins told reporters obesity wasn’t an epidemic.
“No, it’s not catching,” she said.
When asked whether her comments were discriminatory, Collins said: “Oh, come on.
“Many of us can do better on this. I’ll tell you what, take some personal responsibility.”
Massey University researcher Cat Pause, who describes herself as a fat studies scholar, labelled Collins’ attitudes to obesity “heartless” on Newstalk ZB yesterday.
"It fits in line with a larger neoliberal project, which is about positioning individuals as being solely responsible for their own health and well-being, and suggesting neither the larger society nor the state has any role to play,” Pause said.
"We are a community. We need to take care of one another."
In response, Collins said today: “Do you know what is heartless? It’s actually thinking that someone else can cure these issues.
“We can all take personal responsibility, and we all have to own up to our little weaknesses on these matters.”
A reporter then asked if Collins considered obesity a weakness.
Collins replied obesity was “generally” a weakness that people need to take responsibility for.
“Do not blame systems for personal choices.”
The National Party's health policy, which it released in September, proposes to replace the 2015 Childhood Obesity Plan with a new national strategy that addresses all age groups.
The party also wants to make 15 minutes of daily exercise compulsory in all schools within five years as part of its "Daily Mile" programme.