THE STATE OF OUR HEALTH

It is becoming obvious from reading articles in newspapers and on the internet, and watching reports on television, that in spite of the many amazing advances in the medical field, improved surgical techniques and more understanding of our body than ever before, that the state of our health is declining, as it is worldwide. In fact, not only in New Zealand, but in the rest of the world, the rates of some illnesses and diseases like diabetes 2, obesity, heart disease, exhaustion and mental illness, including suicide, are increasing at a very fast rate and are showing no signs of stopping any time soon. There are predictions from the World Health Organisation that health systems around the world will be bankrupted by non-communicable diseases, those conditions known as lifestyle diseases.

 

From the following reports and the associated statistics, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the way we are choosing to live - our lifestyle choices - is having a huge impact on our health, but it is possible that by taking responsibility for our health and well-being and making different lifestyle choices we have the opportunity to improve the quality of our lives.

The following reports are a snapshot of our current health situation in New Zealand and from them we gain a big picture perspective of the level of care and love (aroha) we have towards ourselves and our health. Many of us may be familiar with these health conditions ourselves or know of someone who is, and know what an impact this has not only on the person with the condition, but on their family and friends.

So how healthy are New Zealanders?

The following is an excerpt from a Ministry of Health report on the state of our health.

 

“We know that good health starts in the womb and the early years. A healthy start can improve our lifestyle and health throughout life. Indeed, today New Zealanders continue to live longer, and most of us can expect to spend more of that time in good health. However, too few New Zealanders are optimising their health by eating well, getting enough exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing risky health behaviours and looking after their mental wellbeing. The reasons for these trends are complex and go well beyond the health sector.

 

New Zealanders are living longer and independent life expectancy has increased. However, independent life expectancy has not kept pace with the increase in life expectancy. This means we are spending a greater proportion of our lives, around a fifth, in poor health. The leading causes of health loss are cancers, cardiovascular diseases, mental health disorders, musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. Mental health and musculoskeletal disorders account for a growing proportion of total health loss, as survival from cancer and cardiovascular disease improves.  While many New Zealanders look after their health, one in eight adults has an unhealthy lifestyle, reporting three or more of these risk behaviours.”

HEALTH FACTS

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Cardiovascular disease

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in New Zealand, accounting for a third of deaths in 2012”.

Diabetes

“Diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death for all New Zealanders in 2009 and the fourth leading cause of death for Maori”

Obesity

“New Zealand has the third highest adult obesity rate in the OECD, and our rates are rising. Almost one in three adult New Zealanders (over 15 years) is obese, and one in ten children.”

Mental Health

“2012/13 - New Zealand Health Survey, one in six New Zealand adults (16%, or an estimated 582,000 adults) had been diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some time in their lives (including depression, bipolar disorder and/or anxiety disorder.

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What can we do to improve our health and well-being so that we can live an enjoyable and full life?

What can we do to care for our body?

“Much of the health loss that New Zealanders experience is due to their behaviours and risk factors that affect health, including smoking, excess alcohol intake, not maintaining a healthy weight, poor nutrition and physical inactivity. While some of this health loss is not preventable, leading a healthy lifestyle can reduce our risk of future ill health”.

 

Health & Independence Report - Ministry of Health NZ

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