Registered charity, Evidence Based Eating New Zealand has announced plans to present a series of health lectures in four of New Zealand’s main centres this year.

Titled, The Whole Food Solution, the series involves up to 12 speakers and commences at Christchurch’s University of Otago on May 22. It will be MC’d by EBE NZ chairperson and film maker, Grant Dixon, producer of the documentary, The Big FAT Lie.

Successive presentations will occur at Dunedin in August, Auckland in September and will conclude in the Grand Hall at Parliament in October. 

The series will be opened by Julia Rucklidge, Professor of Psychology at the University of Canterbury. Following lectures will include Professor Jim Mann, Dr Mike Joy and Professor Boyd Swinburn. All other presenters are either university lecturers, practising or training New Zealand GPs.

“The key focus here is our shocking Kiwi diet and the absolute need to change it because the problems it’s causing are just staggering,” Grant Dixon says.

“Last year Jonathan Drew, a medical student at Otago University, wondered how much money the country would save if we all made simple changes to our diet.  So, he asked, ‘what if everyone just kept to the current recommended Ministry of Health dietary guidelines’. How much money would that save?”

“The answer was an astonishing near $14 billion dollars over the lifetime of the people currently living!  He then asked; ‘how much would be saved if everyone ate the best possible plant-based diet?’ The answer was a jaw-dropping $20 plus billion dollars! As well, 1.5 million quality-adjusted life years could be gained – Kiwis would live a lot longer in a much better state of health.

Chronic diseases makeup 88% of our health bill and result in about a million lost life-years. In 2019 New Zealand’s District Health Boards’ deficit totalled $1.2 billion – the 2020 deficit promises only to be a little better.

Our carbon footprint is also a big concern, Dixon says.

“According to Jonathan Drew, beef and lamb are our greatest sources of food produced greenhouse gases, with 21 and 17 kilograms of carbon dioxide respectively produced per kilogram of food. That compares with less than 2 kilograms of carbon dioxide for most plant-based foods. If Kiwis made a serious eating change, up to 42% of current emissions could be saved!”

Dixon says even if New Zealanders only partially switched to climate-friendly diets, we would not only significantly improve our carbon footprint, but we would solve many of our health care funding problems as well.

“It would release billions of dollars to be re-invested in social and agricultural transition programmes.

“At the base of the problem is what we eat. The Ministry of Health says that poor nutrition is the most modifiable risk factor, accounting for some 10% of lost life-years, over-weight and obesity issues are close behind, accounting for another 9% of lost life-years.”

Treasury estimates that if nothing changes in the way we fund and deliver health services, government spending will rise from about 7% of GDP now, to about 11% in 2060, –  a 57% increase.

EBE believes that heart patients and others should be informed that chronic illness and early death can be avoided by changing what you eat.

Patients have the right to be told the truth and a whole food plant-based discussion should be part of every patient-doctor dialogue.

Not mentioning this powerful tool is to withhold crucial information and is contrary to the Hippocratic Oath statement; “I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure”.

Full details and speaker profiles for this series can be viewed at: https://www.ebe.nz/thewholefoodsolution/

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