Monday , August 2 2021

Obesity, smoking in the latest health survey

New Zealanders are sadder and fatter – but smoke less.

The doctor measures the waist of a fat man (stock shot).

Photo: 123RF

Data from the 2017-18 New Zealand Health Survey also found that 88 percent of adults rated their own health as "good, very good or very good" and 98 percent of parents said the same to their children.

The latest picture of the nation's health shows 8.6 percent of adults reported mental stress in the previous month – up from 7.6 percent a year earlier.

The Health Department's chief adviser on population health Fran McGrath said this reflected international trends.

"That might be real. It might be more acceptable to say that it is some of the things you feel. We certainly treat it seriously."

The Ministry of Health and Addiction Inquiry will immediately report back, and also launch more support services to schools, he said.

People living in the most socioeconomic areas are deprived of being 2.5 times more likely to experience psychological distress as those who live in the least deprived area.

Obesity tipped 32 percent of the adult population, up from 27 percent a decade ago.

Smoking rates decreased from 20 percent of the population to 15 percent during the same period.

The biggest reduction was for 15 to 17 years, with 3.6 percent smoking in the latest survey, compared with 16 percent in 2007.

"It's a very significant decrease. Maybe the cost – or maybe it's no longer seen as something cool to do. That's anecdotal feedback."

About one in seven adults reported not visiting the GP because of costs in the past year, which did not differ significantly from five years ago.

Dr. McGrath said that the so-called "first level" statistics are very important for working in high priority areas to address health problems and where to target government policies.

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