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NPA Baseline Health Survey

NPA Baseline Health Survey

There's a health tick for the Top of the South in a major baseline survey just completed by the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board initiated Nutrition and Physical Activity programme (NPA).

The phone survey of 1892 people across Nelson and Marlborough found they were significantly less likely to be overweight than the rest of the New Zealand population, they were also significantly more likely to be taking part in regular physical activity, and they eat more fruit.

NPA programme director Helen Steenbergen says it is also very encouraging to note that most people are eating breakfast and our takeaway intake is relatively low, as is our consumption of fizzy drinks.

However, Ms Steenbergen says the survey is not all good news: "It was a surprise that almost half the region is not eating the recommended three servings of vegetables a day," she said. "People are doing quite well with their two servings of fruit but not so well with vegies."

Ms Steenbergen said the reasons for not eating vegetables and fruits include that they are too expensive, hard to access at work or school and they spoil too easily.

"This indicates we are right on target with our NPA grants for school and community gardens and for home gardening mentoring schemes," she said. "If people grow their own vegies and fruit the cost is reduced, kids are keener to eat vegies they grow themselves and wastage is also reduced."

On the physical activity front, the survey showed that finding time and road safety are barriers to being active - another area the NPA is working on, alongside cycling and walking groups, to advocate for improved facilities.

Ms Steenbergen said the NPA team had just reviewed its strategic plan, in the light of the survey information.

"It reaffirms the direction of programme, though we will now be putting an even stronger emphasis on families and vulnerable people," she said. "It is distressing to learn that in our region 11 percent of the population reported that they sometimes run out of food and cannot afford to buy more."

The NPA Baseline Health Survey was carried out by the University of Auckland Centre for Health Services Research and Policy and is one of the largest surveys of its kind ever done in this region, yielding information that is not available in nationwide government surveys which group Nelson Marlborough with the whole of the South Island.

The NPA will be making the survey data available to schools, government agencies and community groups.

Health points about people from the Top of the South:

* 76% eat an adequate intake of fruit, national average 59%

* 58% engaged in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on at least five of the previous seven days, national average 51%

* 78% of eat breakfast every day

* 55% eat their main meal at home

* 59% have not had a fizzy drink in the last week

* 70% have takeaways less than once a week

* 91% believe breastfeeding is ideal

* 16-24 year olds are the most active but also spend the most time sitting in the weekend.

* More than 11% and 7% respectively are walking or cycling to work or school

* 32% state time as the biggest barrier to being more active, followed by road safety 29% and health problems 26%

* 68% rate their health as good or very good.

The baseline survey is to be launched to stakeholders next Wednesday (Dec 10), coinciding with the unveiling of health themed sign-written cars from the DHB fleet. Helen Steenbergen says the cars are very bright and noticeable with their fruit bowl appearance and will help the NPA to get its healthy eating message across.


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