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New Zealanders Need To Improve Diet

New Zealander's diets have improved over the last 30 years, particularly our consumption of foods which cause coronary heart disease, but more needs to be done, according to a paper in today's issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal.

"New Zealand used to be a country where people traditionally ate diets high in animals fats and dairy products, such as butter. Now people's diets are much more diverse and more attention is paid to healthy eating," said Dr Pippa MacKay, Chairman of the New Zealand Medical Association.

"The study shows that people are eating more fruit, vegetables and fibre, which is good news. But New Zealanders are still eating too much fat, and we are facing an epidemic of obesity, with many related health effects.

"Coronary heart disease accounts for one quarter of all deaths in New Zealand. If improvements can be made through changes in diet, many New Zealanders will gain extra years of life."

The study shows that the biggest improvements in diet, particularly relating to coronary heart disease, occurred between 1985-95. This was also a time when major healthy food promotions by the Heart Foundation and Cancer Society took place.

"It is vital for health organisations to keep promoting healthy eating. Young people especially are bombarded with advertisements for food products, much of which is not healthy if it forms the main part of their diet," Dr MacKay concluded.

The paper, 'The New Zealand food supply and diet - trends 1961-95 and comparison with other OECD countries', by Murray Laugesen and Boyd Swinburn, is attached.

CONTACT DETAILS ARE:

Dr Pippa MacKay (03) 351 6198 (wk) (025) 484 718 (mobile)

Shani Naylor Communications Manager (04) 472 4741 (wk) (025) 284 1081 (mobile)

Shani Naylor Communications Manager New Zealand Medical Association (04) 472 4741 (025) 284 1081

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