Kiwi kids need to kick screens to the curb and exercise more

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Half of Kiwi parents believe their children aren’t getting enough exercise, with the amount of time spent on screens the main culprit to blame, according to AIA New Zealand’s Healthy Living Report released recently.

The AIA Healthy Living Index, commissioned by AIA Group, interviewed more than 10,000 people across the 15 markets in which AIA operates.

AIA New Zealand head of marketing and communications, David Savidan, says the survey, which follows benchmark studies in 2011 and 2013, aims to understand how Kiwis feel about their health, their concerns and hopes for a healthier way of life, and how this has changed over the years.

“New Zealand’s Healthy Living Index score for adults currently sits at 63 out of a possible 100 points.

“In comparison with the previous survey results (58 in 2011 and 61 and 2013). New Zealand parents’ satisfaction with their children’s health sits higher at 76 percent. But there is still room for improvement.”

Parents believe the main reason their children are not getting enough exercise is because they’re spending too much time on screens – on the internet (50 percent), watching TV (25 percent) and playing video games (21 percent).

Homework is not a common reason, with just 10 percent of parents providing this reason.

Similarly, half of parents in New Zealand feel their children are sleep deprived for similar reasons, including spending too much time online (51 percent), playing video games (22 percent) and watching TV (20 percent).

“Taking all of this on board, we can see why one in five (22 percent) of New Zealand parents would like their child to lose weight,” says Mr Savidan.

Healthy eating habits are still limited to the basics of drinking more water and eating more fruit and vegetables, but New Zealanders are not necessarily practising this advice, with 84 percent of Kiwis tending to eat while distracted and 79 percent having unhealthy snacks in between main meals.

“We’d like to encourage Kiwi adults and kids to take action by making adjustments to their daily lives, like reducing screen time, to improve their general health and wellness. Healthy eating and exercising regularly are essential to a healthy lifestyle,” says Mr Savidan.

AIA has compiled a list of suggestions to get children exercising:

  • Sign your child up to a sports team or club – many of these are offered through school.
  • Go for a family walk to the park or around the neighbourhood.
  • Try and get out and about on the weekends, exploring the beach, bush walks etc.
  • Lead by example – children are more likely to join in if they see their parents exercising.
  • Make it fun but also introduce elements of competition – encourage them to complete a number of steps, jumps, skips each day, and beat previous records.Other key findings from the AIA Healthy Living Index:
  • Kiwis rate themselves only 6.3 out of 10 on their overall satisfaction with health and 63 percent feel their health is not as good as five years ago. They recognise that healthy living is multi-faceted, including both physical elements (49 percent) as well as mental aspects.
  • New Zealanders have widespread concerns about various health conditions, with the main concerns being heart-related illness (67 percent), cancer (63 percent), being overweight/obesity (59 percent), and having a stroke (57 percent).
  • Adults in NZ can be motivated to exercise and eat healthier by a range of reasons – tangible effects such as feeling better physically (84 percent) and mentally (81 percent), looking better (79 percent), and better posture (72 percent) as well as smaller and more achievable goals (69 percent) which will help them change one step at a time (70 percent).
  • Many adults in NZ view organic foods (90 percent) and healthy foods (78 percent) as generally more expensive, more so than the regional averages (81 percent, 72 percent). More than half see organic foods as being better for one’s health (57 percent), but at a much lower level than the regional average (77 percent), possibly reflecting fewer concerns about the quality of their foods in NZ.
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of New Zealanders have a medical check each year (52 percent regionally).

About AIA New Zealand
AIA New Zealand is a member of the AIA Group. Since the company arrived in New Zealand in 1981, AIA New Zealand has consistently provided the market with innovative personal and business insurance products that suit the Kiwi way of life. AIA meets the long-term savings and protection needs of individuals by offering a range of products and services including life insurance, accident and health insurance and savings plans.

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