Monday , April 19 2021

Newsie – Obesity up, smoking in the last health survey

New Zealanders are sadder and fatter – but they smoke less.

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

The latest picture of the nation's health shows that 8.6 percent of adults reported mental suffering the previous month – from 7.6 percent in the previous year.

The top adviser to the Ministry of Health in population health, Fran McGrath, said that this reflects international trends.

"It may be real.It may be more acceptable to say that these are some of the things you are feeling.We are certainly treating this seriously, anyway."

The Ministry of Health and the Addiction Inquiry are due to submit a report soon and are also launching more school support services, she said.

People living in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged areas were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from psychological disturbances than those living in less-deprived areas.

Obesity toppled the balance in 32% of the adult population, up from 27% a decade ago.

Smoking rates fell from 20% of the population to 15% in the same period.

The largest reduction was in the age group 15 to 17 years, with 3.6% of smokers in the last survey, compared to 16% in 2007.

"It's a really significant drop. It could be the cost – or it might not be seen as a cool thing to do. That's anecdotal feedback."

About one in seven adults reported not visiting a GP due to the cost last year, which was not significantly different from five years ago.

Dr. McGrath said that the so-called "first-level" statistics were very important for working in the high-priority areas to address health issues and where to direct government policy.

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