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A Portrait of Health!

Media release
5 June 2008

A Portrait of Health!

The 2006/7 New Zealand Health Survey* published this week highlights a number of key areas of concern, particularly in relation to our eating patterns, our health status and our physical activity levels.

The New Zealand Dietetic Association is pleased to see that despite an increase in obesity over the last 10 years, the rate of increase appears to be slowing. However, one adult in three is still overweight and a further one in four is obese. Among children, body size is also an issue, with one in five children overweight and a further one in twelve obese.

Jan Milne, Executive Director of the New Zealand Dietetic Association, advises that to combat this problem we need to think about not only the food we eat, but also our lifestyle – in particular, how active we are.

Says Jan, “According to this Survey, only half of us are taking regular physical activity; that means being active for at least 30 minutes five or more times a week. So it is clear that many of us need to increase our level of activity. Why not try walking, mowing the lawn, or going for a cycle or a swim? We also need to think about a healthy, balanced diet based on lots of fruits and vegetables, lower-fat foods and sensible portion sizes.”

In fact, the inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables is another area of concern highlighted in the new survey. It is recommended that we eat at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables each day. The survey showed that only about two thirds of us are eating enough fruits and vegetables, and although there has been an increasing trend in the prevalence of adequate fruit intake, vegetable consumption has declined since 1997.

Jan Milne recommends, “Think about having fruits with your breakfast, as snacks between meals, and as desserts, and include more vegetables by adding your favourite varieties to stews, casseroles, soups and stir-fries. And remember, any type is just fine – whether fresh, canned, frozen or dried.”

It’s good news that nine out of ten children are having breakfast every day. Dietitians recommend that all children have a healthy breakfast to start the day – wholegrain breakfast cereals, toast, fruit and yogurt are all great choices. Healthy drinks throughout the day are also important. Two thirds of children had at least one fizzy drink in the previous week and one in five had three or more fizzy drinks in the previous week. The best drinks for children are milk or water.

Overall, the New Zealand Dietetic Association is pleased that the majority of children and adults are reported to be in good health and to have good access to healthcare services. However, we are concerned that there are a number of people who are not achieving the healthy behaviour recommendations – particularly in terms of eating well, taking regular exercise and being smoke-free.

For anyone needing expert advice and practical information on nutrition and healthy eating, a registered dietitian is the ideal person to help. If you need to locate a New Zealand Registered Dietitian (NZRD), you can do so by clicking on 'Find a Dietitian' on the homepage of the NZDA website at

*Reference: Ministry of Health. 2008. A Portrait of Health. Key Results of the 2006/7 New Zealand Health Survey. Wellington. Ministry of Health.


The New Zealand Dietetic Association (NZDA) is the national professional association of registered dietitians and associated nutrition professionals, and has been in existence for over 60 years. With a membership of approximately 550, NZDA represents the largest group of fully trained food and nutrition professionals in New Zealand.

The NZDA members are recognised as a highly credible source of food and nutrition knowledge within New Zealand, and promote good health through appropriate food and nutrition, using evidence based scientific research.

Registered dietitians are registered by the New Zealand Dietitians Board, you can check if a dietitian is registered by going to the Dietitians Board website at

The NZDA website contains all the latest information from NZDA, including recent publications and media releases, details of professional development events, and information about our forthcoming national conference in Hamilton. The website address is

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