Exercise NZ media release: 15th January 2024
New data released on the 14th of December 2023 from the Ministry of Health raises concerns about the health of New Zealanders. The latest figures show that only 46.5% of adults are meeting global guidelines for physical activity. This is a significant drop of 5% from the previous year - making this the first year that adults are not meeting the national guidelines in physical activity.
Obesity rates are increasing at the same time, with a 2% annual rise over the last five years and a concerning 4% increase in children. These trends highlight a need for immediate action to address a growing health crisis.
The impact of low physical activity is not only affecting the public health system - costing over $500 million annually. It is also resulting in a substantial loss to the economy, estimated at over $2.3 billion per year.
Mental health is also a major concern. 70% of individuals experiencing some level of distress, according to 2022 rates. Approximately 9% of the population requires professional help,this figure rises to over 16% for young adults. Recent studies have shown that physical activity is the most effective way to improve mental health, yet it receives less attention compared to other interventions.
CEO of ExerciseNZ Richard Beddie, recently attended a meeting with the World Health Organisation in Geneva, where he was one of seven global experts discussing strategies to increase activity levels worldwide.
Beddie is urging the new government to work with the exercise industry to develop measures that not only save taxpayer money but also improve the health and wellness of New Zealanders. The country has an opportunity to lead in preventive measures if decisive action is taken.
“If we address this issue correctly, we can save taxpayers billions of dollars. If we don’t, the situation will only worsen. Past governments have failed to take enough action, and the solution is clear; we just need to implement it,” says Beddie.