Last week, New Zealand’s largest nutrition survey results were released. There’s some good news but the sad news is we’re becoming more overweight but too many off us are undernourished. Here’s are how we are doing in a bit more detail.
The Good Bits:
Since the last survey in 1997…
- Our intake of saturated fat has dropped (as a percentage of our total energy intake)
- Energy intakes dropped in men
- Total blood cholesterol levels dropped 10% in men and women
- More people are eating 2 servings of fruit a day
- Vitamin B6 and Selenium intakes increased
The bad bits:
- Obesity in men jumped from 17% to 27.7% in 12 years – eek (seems maybe the men under reported how much they were eating in the survey?)
- Our weights increased by around 5%
- Nearly 7% of people have diabetes, but over 1/4 of them don’t know it yet.
- Levels of food insecurity more than doubled
Nutrients we’re not getting enough of:
Nearly 60 percent of New Zealanders over the age of 15 years don’t get enough calcium in their diet, and the shortfall is much worse for teenage girls. Perhaps due to the increase in dairy prices? To find out more about calcium and strong bones, read on here
Low iron levels cause tiredness, fatigue and decreases your immune system so you’re more likely to pick up illnesses. To get enough, aim to eat 2 serves of lean red meat a week, choose wholegrain carbohydrates and eat lots of vegetables, including leafy green vegetables. Eating foods containing Vitamin C can help increase iron absorption. Vegetarians need 80% more iron than meat eaters because iron in plant based foods isn’t absorbed as well.
25% of people in the study had low zinc status. Zinc is important in a lot of functions of the body including making proteins, the action of insulin, growth, immune system, sperm production,wound healing.
Good sources of zinc include oysters, red meat, lamb’s liver and cheese. Other sources include grains, nuts and seeds
Although our selenium intakes have increased, we’re still not getting the recommended intake. Selenium is low in New Zealand soils, therefore foods grown in our soils are also low in selenium. It’s an essential nutrient that has an antioxidant function, is involved in reproduction and in the immune system and also has a role in the thyroid.
The biggest contribution of selenium in our diet was bread. You can get enough selenium by eating just 2 Brazil nuts which provides 100% of the recommended daily intake.
Other nutrients that many of us lack:
You can read more about the NZ Nutrition Survey here