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Survey shows New Zealanders are healthier


Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Health

4 June 2008 Media Statement

Survey shows New Zealanders are healthier
Embargoed until 12.01am June 4 2008

Results from the largest-ever survey of New Zealanders' health shows most people believe they are in good health and have excellent access to health care services.

The Minister of Health Minister David Cunliffe released "A Portrait of Health: Key results of the 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey" today and said it highlighted many positive aspects of New Zealanders' health.

Nearly all children and nine out of 10 adults have a general practice they go to first when feeling unwell or injured. Only four percent of children and six percent of adults were unable to see a GP when they needed to within the past 12 months. This figure has almost halved since 1996/97 for children and 2002/03 for adults.

"The survey results reflect the drive in recent years to improve access to primary health care for all New Zealanders - one of the biggest changes in the health sector since the last health survey in 2002/03.

“This represents a major success for the Governments primary health care strategy," Mr Cunliffe said.

More than 17,000 adults and children were interviewed, weighed and measured between October 2006 and November 2007 as part of the Ministry of Health's 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey.

The survey found the rate of obesity in adults is still increasing but the rate of increase was slowing. There has been no change in the proportion of Maori adults who are obese or children who are obese since previous health surveys were conducted.

"These are encouraging indications that the obesity tide may be slowing in these groups, but there is a long way to go. I remain concerned about obesity related diseases, and am pleased that 68 percent of diabetic adults had a free get checked visit," said Mr Cunliffe.

New Zealand’s smoking prevalence has also fallen to its lowest ever level since monitoring of tobacco use began more than 30 years ago, a record low of 19.9 percent for current smokers aged 15 years and over.

Hazardous drinking patterns also present a tough challenge with 54 percent of 18 to 24 year-old males and one in seven adults reporting potentially hazardous drinking patterns.

The report also showed obvious areas for improvement. Maori and Pacific peoples as well as people living in areas of high deprivation continue to have poorer health outcomes compared with others in New Zealand.

"Improving these outcomes remains an important challenge for both the health system and for wider society in New Zealand."

A Portrait of Health also includes information on common health conditions, lifestyle factors that contribute to health, and the overall physical and mental health of New Zealanders

The Ministry of Health is confident the survey results accurately reflect the health of New Zealanders.

Best-practice survey techniques were employed throughout the survey and numerous steps were taken to ensure that the data collected are of high quality and as robust as possible.

"The survey data will be of huge interest to policy makers, health sector professionals, academic institutions and non-government organisations.’’

--

Key facts and figures from A Portrait of Health: Key results of the 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey

Adult health
• Overall, three out of five adults (61 percent) rated their own health as excellent or very good.

Use of primary health care services
• Access to and the use of primary health care services by adults was high.
• Nearly all adults (93 percent) had a primary health care provider (a general practice clinic, student health clinic, accident and medical centre or nurse clinic) they went to first when feeling unwell or injured, most of whom (85 percent) had seen a health care worker from this place in the previous 12 months.
• The majority of adults had good experiences when they visited their primary health provider: 92 percent of adults who saw a primary health care provider in the previous 12 months reported that they had been treated with respect and dignity all of the time, 76 percent reported their health care professional listened carefully to what they had to say all of the time, and 75 percent reported that their health care professional discussed their health care as much as they wanted all of the time.
• From 2002/03 to 2006/07 the proportion of men and women reporting an unmet need for general practitioner (GP) services was halved (11 percent to 6 percent for men and 14 percent to 8 percent for women).
• Only 1.7 percent of adults reported that they could not see a GP due to cost.

Oral health
• Half of adults (51 percent) had visited an oral health care worker in the previous 12 months, and a further 18 percent had visited an oral health care worker more than one year but less than two years before.
• One in ten adults (10 percent) reported that they were unable to see an oral health care worker when they needed to in the previous 12 months. The main reason for this unmet need was cost, followed by an inability to get an appointment at a suitable time.
• Half of all adults (49 percent) have had one or more teeth removed due to decay, abscess, infection or gum disease, with older adults and Maori and Pacific adults much more likely to have had a tooth removed.

Chronic health conditions
• In 2006/07, two out of three adults (66 percent) had been diagnosed by a doctor with a health condition that lasted, or was expected to last, six months or more.
• The most common health condition for adults was medicated high blood pressure (14 percent), followed by asthma (11 percent). Other common health conditions were ischaemic heart disease, arthritis, neck or back disorders, migraine and eczema.
• The prevalence’s of nearly all health conditions increased as age increased, and were higher for Maori.

Medicated high blood pressure and high cholesterol
• In 2006/07 one in seven adults (14 percent) had medicated high blood pressure and one in twelve adults (8 percent) had medicated high cholesterol.
• Between 2002/03 and 2006/07 there was an increase in the prevalence of high blood pressure for men (no change for women). Over this time period there was also an increase in the prevalence of men with high cholesterol.

Diabetes
• In 2006/07, one in twenty adults (5 percent) had doctor-diagnosed diabetes, almost all of whom had type 2 diabetes.
• Between 1996/97 and 2006/07 there was a small but not significant increase in the proportion of adults who were diagnosed with diabetes, but no change for Maori or Pacific people.
• 68 percent of adults with diabetes had had a free Get Checked visit with their health provider in the previous year.

Mental illness
• One in ten adults (11 percent) had ever been diagnosed with a mood disorder (mostly depression), half of whom were taking medication for the condition at the time of the survey.

Tobacco
• In 2006/07 one in five adults (20 percent) were current smokers (includes those who smoked less than daily).
• Maori adults were found to have one and a half (for men) to two times (for women) the rate of smoking compared to men and women in the total population.
• 19 percent of adults smoked daily in 2006/07, a significant decrease from 23 percent of adults in 2002/03.
• One in ten children (10 percent) and one in thirteen adult non-smokers (8 percent) were exposed to second-hand smoke in their home. Second-hand smoke exposure was more prevalent for children and young people, Maori children and adults, Pacific adults, and those living in neighbourhoods of high deprivation.

Hazardous drinking patterns
• In 2006/07 one in seven adults (18 percent) had a potentially hazardous drinking pattern (an established pattern of drinking that carries a high risk of future damage to physical and mental health, but may not yet have resulted in significant adverse effects).
• Half of men aged 18–24 years (54 percent), had a potentially hazardous drinking pattern.
• Overall, from 1996/97 to 2006/07 there was no change in the prevalence of hazardous drinking for adults. However, for Maori adults there has been an increase since 2002/03 in hazardous drinking patterns.

Nutrition
• From 1997 to 2006/07 there was an increase in the proportion of men and women who had two or more servings of fruit a day.
• From 1997 to 2006/07 there was a decline in the proportion of men and women who consumed the recommended three or more servings of vegetables a day.
• Adults living in areas of high neighbourhood deprivation were less likely than adults living in areas of low deprivation to meet the recommendations of two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day.

Physical activity
• Half of all adults (51 percent) reported they were regularly physically active, meaning they did at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day on five or more days in the previous week.
• One in seven adults (15 percent) were sedentary, reporting less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week.
• From 2002/03 to 2006/07 there was an increase the proportion of men and women who were sedentary.

Obesity
• There was an increase in the prevalence of obesity for adults from 1997 to 2006/07, but the rate of increase appears to be slowing. For Maori adults, there was no change in the prevalence of obesity from 1997 to 2006/07.
• In 2006/07 one in three adults (36 percent) were overweight and a further one in four (27 percent) were obese.

Child health
• Overall, nine out of ten (87 percent) parents rated their child’s health as excellent or very good.

Use of primary health care services
• Access to and the use of primary health care services by children was very high. Nearly all children (97 percent) had a primary health care provider (a GP clinic, accident and medical centre or nurse clinic) that their parents took them to first when the child was feeling unwell or injured.
• 79 percent of children had seen a GP in the previous 12 months and 45 percent had seen a primary health care nurse in the previous 12 months.
• Between 1996/97 and 2006/07 there was an increase in the proportion of under six-year-olds whose last visit to a GP was free (from 56 percent to 67 percent).
• Few children (4 percent) were unable to see a GP when they needed to in the previous 12 months, with the main reason for this being an inability to get an appointment.
• Only 1 percent of children were unable to see a GP because of cost in the past 12 months. However, Maori children were more than twice as likely to be unable to see a GP because of cost compared to all children.

Oral health
• Use of oral health care services for children, particularly those aged 5–14 years, was high. Four out of five children aged 2–14 years (80 percent) had visited an oral health care worker in the past 12 months, and a further 9 percent had visited an oral health care worker more than one year but less than two years before.
• Pacific and Asian children were less likely to have seen an oral health care worker in the previous 12 months compared to children in the total population.
• Nearly all children (92 percent) aged two to four years had never had a filling, but this decreased to half of children (48 percent) aged five to nine years, and then to one in three children (30 percent) aged 10–14 years.
• One in nine children aged 2–14 years (11 percent) had one or more teeth removed due to decay, abscess, infection or gum disease.

Chronic health conditions
• One in three children (37 percent) had been diagnosed by a doctor with a health condition that lasted or was expected to last six months or more.
• Asthma was the most common health condition for children, with one in seven children aged 2-14 years (15 percent) taking medication for asthma.
• Other common health conditions for children were eczema (14 percent) and all types of allergies (6 percent).

Discipline
• Physical punishment was one of the least used forms of discipline in the previous four weeks, with one in ten children aged from birth to 14 years (10 percent) having experienced physical punishment by their primary caregiver in that time period.
• Children aged two to four years, and Maori and Pacific boys were the most likely to experience physical punishment.
• One in twenty-two primary caregivers (5 percent) considered physical punishment to be an effective form of discipline, and fewer than one in three who had used physical punishment in the previous four weeks (30 percent) considered it to be effective.

Infant feeding
• Nine out of ten children (88 percent) were ever breastfed, for an average time of eight and a half months.
• 73 percent of under five year olds were exclusively breastfed at six weeks of age, declining steadily to 56 percent at three months, then 8 percent at six months.
• One in ten children (11 percent) were given solids earlier than recommended (before four months of age), with children living in areas of high deprivation the most likely to be given solids early.

Nutrition
• Nine out of ten children (88 percent) ate breakfast at home every day in the previous week.
• Most children (64 percent) had at least one fizzy drink in the previous week, with 19.6% having had three or more fizzy drinks in that week.
• Most children (71 percent) ate fast food in the previous week, with 7 percent having eaten fast food three times or more during that week.
• For these nutrition indicators, older children (10-14 years old), Maori and Pacific girls and boys, and children living in neighbourhoods of high deprivation had poorer nutritional behaviour compared to other children.

Physical activity
• Less than half of children (47 percent) usually used active transport (walking, biking or another form of physical activity) to get to and from school. Parents reported the main reasons why their children did not use active transport to school were that they lived too far from school, they were concerned about traffic, and they were worried about other dangers aside from traffic.
• Two out of three children (64 percent) aged five to 14 years usually watched two or more hours of television a day. Maori boys and girls were more likely to watch two or more hours of television a day compared to boys and girls in the total population.

Body size
• Most New Zealand children aged 2-14 years (68 percent) had a body mass index in the normal range.
• One in five children (21 percent) were overweight and a further one in twelve (8 percent) were obese.
• From 2002 to 2006/07 there was no change in the proportion of New Zealand school-aged children who were obese.

Overview of 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey
• The 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey is the fourth national population-based health survey carried out by the Ministry of Health.

• The first Health Survey was carried out in 1992/93, followed by surveys in 1996/97 and 2002/03.

• The 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey measured self-reported physical and mental health states (including diagnosed health conditions), modifiable risk and protective factors for health outcomes, and the use of health care services, for the non-institutionalised resident population of all ages.

• The 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey was carried out from October 2006 to November 2007, collecting information on 4921 children aged from birth to 14 years and 12,488 adults aged 15 years and over. The survey included 11,632 European/Other people, 5143 Maori, 1831 Pacific peoples and 2255 Asian people of all ages.

• Parents or caregivers answered the child questionnaire on their child’s behalf.

• This survey is particularly important as it collects information on New Zealanders’ health that is not available through health system records. The survey results have been weighted in order to be representative of New Zealand’s resident population living in permanent private dwellings.

• A final response rate of 68 percent was achieved for the adult questionnaire and 71 percent for the child questionnaire.

ENDS

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