Researchers are calling for a health programme in Waikato to be implemented in schools nationwide, after analysis shows it reduced the number of overweight children.
Waikato District Health Board funds 'Project Energize' which provides 27 sports teachers and a dietitian to help schools encourage exercise and healthy eating.
The $2 million programme started in 2005 and reaches 44,000 children.
A study of more than 5000 students, aged six to 11 yeard, found that on average they had thinner waists and and could run faster than those not in the programme.
Lead author Elaine Rush from Auckland University of Technology, says obesity rates were 3% lower than the national average.