Latest New Zealand Health Survey results provide valuable information about the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders

News article

14 December 2023

‘The annual New Zealand Health Survey results provide valuable information about the health and wellbeing of adults and children in New Zealand,’ says Dr Harriette Carr, Deputy Director Public Health at the Ministry of Health | Manatū Hauora. ‘The information collected supports the development of health services, policies and strategies, and helps the Ministry of Health and the wider sector to identify key issues and monitor trends.’

The 2022/23 New Zealand Health Survey results are based on data collected between July 2022 and July 2023. The sample size was 6,977 adults (15 years and older) and 2,029 children aged 0–14 years. Around 180 indicators related to child and adult health are included in the survey publication. The data is presented online in a way that allows results to be compared to previous years, and to be viewed by gender, age group, ethnic group, disability status and neighbourhood deprivation.

‘The key statistics in the survey give a picture of New Zealanders’ smoking and vaping behaviour, alcohol consumption, mental health, eating habits and access to food, obesity, physical activity, oral health and access to healthcare.

‘For the first time, results for disabled children and information about social, emotional and behavioural functioning in children have been included,’ says Dr Carr.

Key findings show:

  • Most adults in New Zealand (86.2%) reported they are in good health, similar to levels reported over the previous five years.
  • The rate of hazardous drinking declined from 18.7% in 2021/22 to 16.0% in 2022/23.
  • Smoking rates continued to decline, with 6.8% of adults being daily smokers in 2022/23, down from 8.6% the previous year and 16.4% in 2011/12. This decline in daily smoking was observed across all ethnic groups recorded in the survey. Daily smoking was more common in adults living in the most deprived neighbourhoods (10.7%).
  • The rate of daily vaping increased over the past five years from 2.6% in 2017/18 to 9.7% in 2022/23. Daily vaping was highest among those aged 18–24 years (25.2%), and among Māori (23.5%) and Pacific peoples (18.7%) and also more common in adults living in the most deprived neighbourhoods (15.8%).
  • In the four weeks prior to completing the 2022/23 survey, one in five (21.2%) young adults (aged 15–24) experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress.
  • High or very high levels of psychological distress were also more common in disabled adults than in non-disabled adults.
  • Less than half of adults (46.5%) met physical activity guidelines and about one in three adults (32.6%) in New Zealand were classified as obese, a rate that is similar to five years ago.
  • More than one in three Māori (35.1%) and Pacific (39.6%) children were living in households where food runs out sometimes or often. 
  • Over half of children aged four months to less than five years at the time of the survey (58.1%) were exclusively breastfed until four months old. This was the highest rate reported in the last 10 years.
  • Visits to the GP decreased over the last five years, while visits to the emergency department increased. One in five adults (21.2%) and one in seven children (14.8%) experienced ‘time taken to get an appointment was too long’ as a barrier to visiting the GP.

‘The data show that most New Zealanders continue to report they are in good health and that progress is being made in some key areas, such as smoking cessation,’ says Dr Carr.

‘However, we know there is more to do to lead and steward the health system and promote good health for all New Zealanders. The Government Policy Statement on Health 2024–2027, Budget 2024 and Te Pae Tata | The New Zealand Health Plan, are all currently being developed and will set the direction for the health system to ensure all New Zealanders have timely access to quality healthcare. The findings of the New Zealand Health Survey will help us track our progress on the work underway to enable the health system to meet the future needs of New Zealanders.’

The 2022/23 New Zealand Health Survey findings have been published on the Ministry’s Annual Data Explorer, an interactive web tool: Annual Data Explorer.

Further information about the New Zealand Health Survey, including previous publications, is available at New Zealand Health Survey.

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