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Kiwi Parents of Young Children at Risk of Poor Health

Kiwi Parents of Young Children at Risk of Poor Health - Survey
By Fleur Revell
28 May 2014

According to a new survey, Kiwi mums and dads of young children are gaining weight, have greater stress levels and have reduced the amount they exercise which may put them at risk of high cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.[1]

The Metamucil Health and Wellbeing Survey revealed that, a majority (72%) of Kiwi parents of young children may be at risk of increased cholesterol levels due to weight gain or reduced exercise, with 63% of parents not considering their health as often now that they have children.

The study surveyed New Zealand parents of children aged 11 years and under to investigate how the life changes that accompany parenthood impact health and wellbeing.

Of the parents surveyed, four out of ten (40%) of New Zealanders admitted to never having their cholesterol checked or were unsure if they had ever had their cholesterol checked - despite more than a quarter (28%) acknowledging they have a family history of the condition.

Nearly six out of ten (58%) say the amount of time they have for exercise has decreased since becoming parents, more than half (54%) say their weight has increased and three quarters (75%) say their stress levels have increased.

Three in ten (29%) of Kiwis surveyed say they have had high blood pressure, while almost a quarter (24%) of respondents say they are not getting enough fibre in their diet.

Metamucil spokesperson Emma Pechey says what many people don’t realise that it is important to take care of your cholesterol levels to improve your general health and wellbeing.

“The right amount of dietary fibre plays an important role in helping to lower cholesterol, yet some parents may not be aware of what they need to consume to meet the recommended daily intake of 25 to 30 grams of fibre.

“These findings provide a timely reminder of the importance of regular exercise and balanced eating when it comes to maintaining good health. By taking simple steps to improve your health and wellbeing like getting a cholesterol check and increasing your fibre intake to help lower cholesterol, particularly psyllium fibre, you’re putting your best foot forward for yourself and your family,” says Pechey.

When it comes to health risk factors, the survey revealed that almost half (45%) of those that report multiple risk factors of high cholesterol have never had their cholesterol level checked.

“For these reasons it is important that parents start to move their health checks up on their list of priorities,” says Pechey.

The news is not all bad however as it appears parents of young children are making an effort when it comes to eating and drinking. Most parents (79%) say the meals they eat are at least as healthy if not more healthy than in their pre-children days and more than half (54%) have reduced their alcohol consumption since having children. A further quarter (26%) have quit smoking since having children.

The risk factors for high cholesterol levels identified by Mayo Clinic US are [2]:

• Smoking

• Obesity

• Lack of exercise

• High blood pressure

• Poor diet including a lack of fibre intake

• Family history

It was family history and a health scare with his own father that gave Shortland Street and Sione’s Wedding actor Pua Magasiva the wake-up call he needed when it came to his own health.

“My dad was visiting his doctor on an unrelated issue when the GP decided he’d check his weight and blood pressure. It turns out he needed to have a pacemaker implant to help regulate his heartbeat. Given my family history and the fact that high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, I knew I had to do more to manage my health,” he says.

A busy television and movie actor, radio host, husband and father Pua says he knows how hard it can be for parents to take care of their health.

“The results of the Metamucil Health and Wellbeing Survey don’t surprise me at all. Being a parent is not easy, but the moment you make that choice to become one you need to be a good one. I believe that being a good parent means having motivation and stamina, being a role model and being physically active,” he says.

“As parents we need to lead by example and that means, showing your kids how to eat healthy and ensure they remain physically active.”

Pua’s advice is to make a commitment as a family to living a healthy lifestyle.

“I encourage other parents to take a look at the risk factors and if you identify with them, visit your doctor, have your cholesterol checked and talk about what you can do to manage your health,” he says.

[1] http://aihw.gov.au/cardiovascular-health/risk-factors/

[2] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-cholesterol/DS00178/DSECTION=risk-factors


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