How Unhealthy Are New Zealanders

February 25th, 2013 by Cath King from Seeking Health

New Zealand is often portrayed by the media as ‘green’, all natural, packed with healthy, sporty young kiwis. But how accurate is this picture? How do we compare to the rest of the world in terms of health? Does the typical kiwi diet and lifestyle have a positive influence on our health? Or are we on the same downward spiral as America with their SAD (Standard American Diet)?

Many people in my recent survey reported that they would be happy with the health of the average New Zealander so lets see exactly what that is?

Here are some statistics on the state of the nation’s health:

  • New Zealand has a relatively high prevalence of obesity compared with other OECD countries. In 2006/7 the NZ rate of obesity was 25% compared to an OECD medium of 13%. USA was the highest percentage at 27% with NZ’s 25% coming in 2nd. (Ministry of Social Development 2008 Social Report)
  • An epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes is occurring in NZ, as in other developed countries. In 1996 there were 86000 new diagnoses for diabetes. If the rate of diagnosis continues to increase as it currently is, by 2011 there will be 156000 new diagnoses each year. (Ministry of Health)
  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in NZ – 40% of all deaths annually. (Remember, this is an entirely preventable disease). In 2002 more people were living with heart disease than ever before. (Heart Foundation of NZ)
  • International research shows New Zealanders have the third highest cancer rates in the world. Colon/rectum cancer is NZ’s most common form of cancer.
  • Around 75% of adult New Zealanders have blood pressure higher than the ideal level of 120/75 and would benefit by lowering their blood pressure.
  • This year about 80,000 New Zealanders will break bones because of osteoporosis. That is a fracture every 6 minutes, and if nothing is done, this will increase to 120,000 people by 2020, with a fracture every 41/2 minutes.
  • NZ has the 2nd highest prevalence of asthma in the world. 1 in 6 adults has asthma and 1 in 4 children.

All these statistics are based on diet and lifestyle related diseases. All are openly acknowledged as being directly related to diet, exercise and lifestyle factors and so totally within your control

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that teaches us “Unless you change your direction, you’re likely to end up where you’re headed.” Considering where the SAD (Standard Aotearoa Diet) is taking us, based on these figures, maybe it’s time for a change in direction.

So how about you? Are you happy to have the health of the average New Zealander? Or are you ready to change the direction of your health to achieve exceptional health?



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