South Auckland food hub sets standard as obesity rate sparks calls for prevention

News that a number of morbidly obese patients are stuck at one of New Zealand's biggest hospitals has prompted calls for more original thinking around prevention, and a South Auckland group is already trying a fresh approach.

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It comes as a number of morbidly obese patients are stuck at one of our biggest hospitals. Source: 1 NEWS

The Papatoetoe Food Hub involves different organisations teaching people how to grow and cook food.

An under-used piece of council land has been transformed into a green oasis for the scheme.

"When you're surrounded by cheap food everywhere what are you going to do when you have two jobs? You're going to buy the cheapest things readily available to you and not thinking about what's the nutritional value that brings to you and your family," said George Makapatama of Healthy Families South Auckland.

Thirty-six-thousand morbidly obese adults live in Counties Manukau.

Last week it was revealed the district health board is having to keep obese patients in hospital because of a chronic shortage of suitable outpatient care.

That prompted weight loss surgeon Dr Richard Babor to urge prevention.

"We need to look at how we work together as families and communities to prevent people from becoming obese, rather than building hospital systems to cope with ever more obese people," he said.

Shardae Komene of The Roots Creative Entrepreneurs, which is involved in the food hub, shares the concern.

"My concern about the issue that we're having at the moment in South Auckland around obesity is the fact that we are potentially losing family members and loved ones because of our habits," she said.

Food grown at the food hub is also cooked on site, the aim being to prove to customers that meals can be cheap and healthy. A curry costs $6.

"It's more than a cafe. The most important thing here at food hub is it's all about providing accessible and affordable food options in South Auckland," Ms Komene said.

Looks are deceptive when it comes to the donated kitchen - the famous White Lady trailer. The trailer no longer dispenses greasy burgers, only healthy options.

"Be brave, don't be afraid to take on new habits," is Ms Komene's advice.

Those new habits could sow the seeds for a healthier future.