Poor diet and high body mass index (obesity) are leading causes of health loss in New Zealand. These risk factors contribute to inequities in health outcome because obesity and poor dietary habits are more prevalent in Māori and Pacific peoples.
Up-to-date information on dietary intake and nutritional status of New Zealanders are essential for developing evidence-based policies and programmes to improve nutrition, reduce obesity and ensure food safety through accurate and appropriate food standards.
The most recent adult nutrition survey was completed in 2008/09. For children this was 2002. Since then, our food supply and population have changed substantially.
Comprehensive nutrition surveys are the only way to collect quantitative data on dietary intake and the nutritional status of the population.
The nutrition survey data will be used to monitor health status and risk factors, including identifying population groups with poor dietary intake and nutritional deficiencies. Data from the 2002 Children Nutrition’s Survey highlighted the re-emergence of iodine deficiency, which was subsequently addressed by mandating the use of iodised salt in bread. Data will also be used by the Ministry for Primary Industries to set food standards and by academics to assist their research.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Primary Industries are jointly funding scoping work for the next survey being undertaken by Auckland University Professor of Population Nutrition Cliona Ni Mhurchu and her team.