Friday, June 12, 2009

Are Kiwis as unhealthy as Americans?

Americans are becoming less healthy.

The study compared results from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey conducted from 2001 to 2006 with results from the same survey conducted from 1988 to 1994. The study focused on the more than 7,000 participants ages 40 to 74 who participated in the two surveys because they are at the greatest risk for heart disease.

* The percentage of U.S. residents who eat five fruits and vegetables a day has decreased from 45 percent to 26 percent.
* Those who drink alcohol moderately -- one drink daily for women or two for men -- increased from 40 percent to 51 percent, while the number who do not imbibe at all declined from 51 percent to 40 percent.
* The rate of smoking fell only slightly, from 27 percent to 26 percent.
* The rate of obesity rose from 28 percent to 36 percent.
* The percentage of U.S. residents who said they exercise at least 30 minutes three times a week declined from slightly more than 50 percent to 43 percent.

The first seems incredibly low. The NZ 2006/07 health survey showed that in the 45-54 age group 62% of men and 73% of women ate three or more servings of vegetables per day and respectively 50% and 71% ate two or more servings of fruit. The figures tend to increase with age.

The second, in respect of teetotallers, is high compared to NZ where only 16 percent of adults hadn't drank alcohol in the past year. It would appear we do not measure moderate drinking - only hazardous, which says something.

On the third indicator, it looks like we are about on par for smoking both in rates of (1 in 4 adults) and trend - slow decline.

Obesity in NZ adults peaks at 36 percent in the age group 55-64 so taken over a comparable age group the NZ rate is lower but not by much.

Finally the NZ criteria for adequate exercise is 30 minutes 5 times a week rather than 3 times. Around 50 percent achieve this in NZ so we are doing better than Americans who only achieve 43 percent at a lower threshold.

On the whole it would appear Kiwis are healthier than Americans but similarly are getting fatter, exercising less, drinking more, but smoking less.

Personally I do not eat enough fruit (although I shovel it down the kid's throats), drink too much wine (which I do not shovel down the kid's throats), don't smoke, get more than the required amount of exercise and am not obese.

The US, by the way, is the only country I have ever visited where anti-acid tablets are sold in restaurants.

1 comment:

Manolo said...

Paraphrasing Lindsay: Personally, I eat enough fruit, drink copious quantities of wine, don't smoke, go for 10K runs, and am not obese.