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New Zealanders Getting Fitter, But Not Slimmer

NEW Zealand adults are generally fitter than they were in 1996, however overall, many have tipped the scales in terms of obesity according the latest report Progress on Health Outcome Targets 1999.

Director-General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi today released the annual publication which analyses the progress towards improving health of New Zealanders, as well as current trends and inequalities in people's health status.

"Each year, with input from surveys conducted by various other organisations, we measure the health of the nation. There are some good achievements documented in this report, particularly in terms of an overall reduction in tobacco consumption, injuries and deaths from motor vehicle crashes, and a reduction in deaths from stroke, cardio vascular and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

"However within these categories there are still some groups which need particular attention. For example, while the SIDS rate overall has dropped, the rate of SIDS in Maori infants was almost six times greater than that on non-Maori. Similarly, while overall tobacco consumption has dropped, lung cancer mortality for women has increased."

Dr Poutasi said that New Zealand Health Strategy will build on the achievements identified in this report, while at the same time focussing on areas in need of improvement such as nutrition, obesity, tobacco and drug use.

"The New Zealand Health Strategy will ensure New Zealand uses its available health resources more effectively in the future and ultimately improve the health of all New Zealanders. The Strategy provides a framework for what we want to achieve in health, and will provide the short to medium term focus for the new District Health Boards and the Ministry of Health."

Dr Poutasi said, "Individuals, communities, local and central government as well as the health sector itself can make a difference to the impact chronic diseases are having on ourselves and our families and help reduce and prevent illhealth in the community.

"Primary Care providers such as GPs, nurses and Maori and Pacific providers also have an important role, as they can identify people at high risk of these diseases. They can help them make the necessary lifestyle changes and treat conditions before complications develop."

A full copy of the document is available under publications on the Ministry of Health website


For more information contact: Selina Gentry, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2483 or 025-277-5411 Internet address:

Questions and Answers, Progress on Health Outcome Targets 1999.

What is PHOT? Progress on Health Outcome Targets focuses exclusively on monitoring progress toward specific public health targets. PHOT reports allow the Ministry to track progress on health against specific goals, targets and objectives. Target monitoring provides valuable feedback to the public sector and other relevant sectors, as to where progress is being made and where it has stalled or is even heading in the opposite direction.

What does Progress on Health Outcome Targets 1999 cover? The report includes individual target reports on: - food and nutrients - obesity - breastfeeding - physical activity - fluoride and oral health - tobacco - immunisation - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - Child Abuse - Sexually Transmitted Disease - HIV/AIDS - Cannabis - Youth Suicide - Cervical Cancer - Melanoma - Breast Cancer - Diabetes - Influenza

How often is it produced? Progress on Health Outcome Targets is produced annually. It measures results against specific health targets. This is the seventh annual publication of Progress on Health Outcomes. In 1999 the five yearly publication Our Health Our Future was released. The publication analyses the health of New Zealanders, and trends and inequalities in people's health status. Earlier this year the Ministry of Health published "Social Inequalities in Health" which emcompases the social and economic determinants of Health.

Where is the information from? Information has come from: National Minimum Dataset (including Hospital and mortality data) which is managed by the New Zealand Health Information Service Cancer data from the National Cancer Registry Statistics New Zealand Non-Government Organisations LTSA National Audiology Centre

What do the trends in Progress on Health Outcomes Targets 1999 tell us? Trends give us an idea of how well we are doing against specific areas. A trend toward an objective does not mean that all the targets within that objective will be reached by the set date only that progress is being made toward achievement of the objective concerned.

In what areas is our health improving, for the total population? Tracking toward health are: physical activity, poisoning, burns, SIDS, child abuse, drownings, road traffic injuries and road users behaviour, alcohol consumption, alcohol-related outcomes, tobacco consumption, Ischaemic heart disease, rheumatic fever, stroke, cervical cancer and influenza.

In what areas are we tracking away from our goals, for the total population? Obesity, Cannabis consumption, youth suicide (female), HIV, tobacco related health outcomes (female), breast cancer, diabetes and melanoma.

In what areas is our health improving, for the Maori population? SIDS, burns, drownings, tobacco consumption, alcohol-related health outcomes, rheumatic fever, Ischaemic heart disease, cervical cancer and influenza.

In what areas are we tracking away from our goals, for the Maori population? Obesity, youth suicide (female), ectopic pregnancy, diabetes, melanoma, breast cancer and stroke.

Who was involved in the report? Ministry of Health staff prepared the report, assisted by the Health Funding Authority and experts from universities and other organisations. The report was peer reviewed by experts within New Zealand.

Index for Journalists

15 per cent of males and 19 percent of females are obese . For more details see page 29

The total amount of tobacco products released for consumption per adult in 1998 reaches a new low. See page 56 for more details.

Between 1980 and 1997 the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome dropped by almost two-thirds. For more details see page 71.

Burns from hot objects or substances,caustic or corrosive substances and steam cause about 10 times as many child hospitalisations as burns from fire and flames. See page 76 for more details.

In 1998 the total number of deaths due to motor vehicle crashes was 504 - the lowest recorded for the past 34 years. For more details see page 92.

The higher prevalence of substance abuse and depression are possible contributors to the marked increase in youth suicide rates in New Zealand. For more details see page 131.

In 1998 the rate of Rheumatic fever in Pacific People was six times higher than the national rate. For more details see page 139.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in New Zealand after Ischaemic heart disease and cancer. For more details see page 143.

Deaths from cervical cancer in 1997 were the lowest, both in number and rates for the past decade. For more details see page 149

Selina Gentry Media Liaison Communications DDI: 496 2483 Fax: 496 2010 Ministry of Health

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