10 Dec 2015

Obesity, problem drinking on the rise - survey

5:26 pm on 10 December 2015

An annual snapshot of the nation's health shows 31 percent of adults are obese and problem drinking is increasing.

The Ministry of Health's annual health survey, which involves face-to-face interviews with more than 13,000 adults and the parents and caregivers of over 4000 children, found one in nine children aged two to 14 were obese.

Children living in the poorest neighbourhoods were five times more likely to be obese than those living in the most affluent and, for adults, the equivalent rate ratio was 1.7 times, after adjusting for age, sex and ethnic differences.

More than 5.3 percent of the adult population was morbidly obese, up from 3.4 percent five years ago.

The hazardous drinking rate has risen again, returning to levels seen in 2006/2007

The survey said this was largely due to an increase in dangerous drinking among adults aged 45 to 54, which has risen from 12 percent in 2006/2007 to 18 percent in the most recent survey.

Hazardous drinking rates fluctuated by age, the report found - peaking at 34 percent in youth aged 18-24 years, which was lower than in 2006/2007 when it was 43 percent.

While Pacific adults were less likely to have drunk alcohol in the past year than non-Pacific adults, those who drink were more likely to be hazardous drinkers than non-Pacific adults who drink. Over half of male Pacific past-year drinkers (52 percent) were hazardous drinkers.

Advocate quits anti-obesity campaign

Last month, leading New Zealand anti-obesity campaigner Robyn Toomath quit the battle when she said she had achieved nothing in 14 years.

Dr Toomath said she was sick of fighting for change and getting nowhere, with the obesity rate growing to at least one in three adults and one in three children.

"Clearly, I've made no progress. There's not a single thing that comes to mind other than the district health boards are going to provide a healthy food environment for their staff.

"I mean, really, it's pathetic that that's all we can think of," she said.