29 May 2015

Revving up for a Health Pit Stop

From Country Life, 9:13 pm on 29 May 2015
Gytha Lancaster testing Grace Stephenson at a Health Pit Stop

Gytha Lancaster testing Grace Stephenson at a Health Pit Stop Photo: RNZ Susan Murray

The health of New Zealand dairy farmers isn’t as robust as one might think judging by the results of Health Pit Stops run by the Institute of Rural Health.

The Dairy Industry funded health check has travelled the country in the past five years doing instant cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and BMI measurements and Gytha Lancaster says dairy farmers could do with a health rev up.

“Two thirds have higher than ideal blood pressure, three quarters have high cholesterol and some are over-weight.”

Dairy farmer Greg Maughan isn’t surprised, saying farming is much less physical these days, with machinery doing the heavy work, and more about concentrating on harvesting milk efficiently and using technology.  He says it’s good for farmers, who are a business’ main asset, to have a health rev up.

He says the days of telling someone who’s ailing to “take a cement pill and harden up”, have gone.

Recently 11 finalists  taking part in a Dairy Trainees of the Year Award study tour, underwent the Health Pit Stop.

As well as the blood tests, and other measurements, they had to fill in a questionnaire looking at emotional health and stress levels. 

Questions about alcohol and food choices including five fruit and vegetable helpings a day, challenged some. One participant chirped “two scoops of chips from the fish and chip shop probably doesn’t count either.”