Annual Update of Key Results 2021/22: New Zealand Health Survey

Published online: 
17 November 2022

The Annual Data Explorer presents results from the 2021/22 New Zealand Health Survey, with comparisons to earlier surveys where possible. Results are available by gender, age group, ethnic group, neighbourhood deprivation and disability status.

Published data can be downloaded from the Annual Data Explorer as a.csv file.

Data for the 2021/22 New Zealand Health Survey were collected from July 2021 and July 2022. Details about the survey methodology, including how COVID-19 impacted on data collection, is outlined in the latest Methodology Report..

If you have any queries please email [email protected].

Overview of key findings

Selected findings are summarised below. See the Annual Data Explorer for results for all 180+ indicators.

Some key results have also been presented in the Health of New Zealanders 2021/22 poster (PDF, 347KB)

Most New Zealanders are in good health

  • 88.4% of adults reported they were in 'good health', which is defined as good, very good or excellent health. This is similar to 2020/21, when 88.0% of adults were in good health.
  • Disabled adults were less likely to report being in good health than non-disabled adults (62.6% and 90.8%, respectively).
  • According to their parents, 98.0% of children were in good health. This high level of good health among children has been stable over the last decade.

Life satisfaction is high overall

  • 83.6% of adults rate their life satisfaction highly (at least 7 out of 10).
  • Groups that rated their life satisfaction lower than the average (7.8) were: disabled adults (6.9), those living in the most deprived areas (7.6), and those aged 15–24 years (7.6).

Smoking rates continue to decline

  • 8.0% of adults were daily smokers in 2021/22, down from 9.4% the previous year and 16.4% in 2011/12.
  • Smoking rates have declined for all ethnic groups except Pacific people, but large inequities remain. For example, daily smoking rates were as follows: Māori (19.9%), Pacific (18.2%), and European/Other (7.2%).
  • The most marked inequities in smoking are by socioeconomic status. After adjusting for demographic differences, adults living in the most deprived areas are 4.3 times as likely as adults in the least deprived areas to be daily smokers.

Daily vaping/e-cigarette use has increased

  • 8.3% of adults were daily vapers/e-cigarette users in 2021/22, up from 6.2% the previous year and 0.9% in 2015/16.
  • Daily vaping/e-cigarette use was highest among those aged 18–24 years (22.9%), Māori (17.6%) and Pacific peoples (16.8%).

Nearly one in five adults has a hazardous drinking pattern

  • 18.8% of adults had a hazardous drinking pattern [1] in 2021/22.
  • Asian adults (6.0%) had a lower rate of hazardous drinking than other ethnic groups: Māori (33.2%), Pacific (21.7%) and European/Other (20.1%).
  • The rate of hazardous drinking has remained relatively stable since 2015/16 (when the current time series began).

[1] Hazardous drinkers are those who obtain an Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) score of 8 or more, representing an established pattern of drinking that carries a high risk of future damage to physical or mental health.

Nearly one in four young people experience high levels of psychological (mental) distress

  • Most adults experienced no/low (70.8%) or moderate (18.0%) levels of psychological distress in the four weeks prior to the 2021/22 survey. However, one in nine adults (11.2%) experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress.
  • Nearly one in four (23.6%) young people aged 15–24 years experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress in 2021/22, up from 5.1% in 2011/12.
  • High or very high levels of psychological distress was more common in disabled adults than in non-disabled adults (32.8% and 9.2%, respectively).

Increase in unmet need for professional mental health support

  • 8.8% of adults reported an unmet need for professional help for their emotions, stress, mental health or substance use in 2021/22, compared to 4.9% in 2016/17.
  • Young adults reported the highest rates of unmet need for this professional help (16.2% for 15–24 years and 15.6% for 25–34 years).
  • 6.2% of children had an unmet for professional help for their emotions, behaviour, stress, mental health or substance use in the year before being surveyed (according to their parents), up from 4.5% in 2016/17.

More than four out of five adults report high levels of family wellbeing

  • 83.2% of adults reported high family wellbeing (score of 7+ out of 10) in 2021/22.
  • 93.2% of children have a parent/caregiver who reported having someone they can turn to for day-to-day emotional support with raising children.
  • The proportion of children who have parents/caregivers coping well or very well with demands of raising children 75.5% in 2021/22, down from 86.5% in 2012/13.

Household food insecurity more common in deprived neighbourhoods

  • 12.5% of children lived in households where food runs out sometimes or often in 2021/22. This is similar to the previous year, but down from 20.0% in 2019/20.
  • 10.6% of children lived in households that sometimes or often use foods banks or grants in 2021/22, which is similar to previous years.
  • 12.9% of children lived in households where they sometimes or often eat less because of lack of money for food in 2021/22. This is similar to the previous year, but down from 18.2% in 2019/20.
  • Children living in households in the most deprived areas were 4-6 times as likely to experience food insecurity as children living in the least deprived areas, after adjusting for differences in age, gender and ethnicity.

Half of adults and 70% of children meet fruit intake guideline

  • In 2020, the Ministry of Health published new Eating and Activity Guidelines for adults. These guidelines recommend a different number of fruit and vegetable servings depending on age and gender for both adults and children. The Health Survey questions on fruit and vegetable intake were updated in 2021/22 to be consistent with the new guidelines.
  • In 2021/22, half of adults (49.8%) met the fruit intake recommendation (2+ servings per day).
  • 10.4% of adults met the vegetable intake recommendation (5 to 5.5 servings).
  • 73.9% of children (2–14 years) met the fruit intake recommendation (1 to 2 servings).
  • 6.4% of children (2–14 years) met the vegetable intake recommendation (2.5 to 5.5 servings).

Half of adults meet physical activity guidelines

  • Just over half of adults (51.9%) met physical activity guidelines, while 12.8% did little or no physical activity in 2021/22.
  • 43.5% of children (5–14 years) used active transport (for example, walking and cycling) to get to and from school in 2021/22.

Obesity was not measured in 2021/22

Most adults and children meet sleep duration guidelines

  • Nearly seven in 10 adults (68.9%) met sleep duration guidelines in 2021/22. The average number of hours sleep was 7.3 hours.
  • One in four adults (25.7%) got less sleep than recommended in 2021/22.
  • Among children, 77.4% met sleep duration guidelines in 2021/22.

About two-thirds of people brush their teeth as recommended

  • 63.7% of children (1–14 years) and 68.7% of adults brush their teeth with standard fluoride toothpaste at least twice each day.
  • Toothbrushing twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste varied by neighbourhood deprivation, from 57.5% of adults in most deprived neighbourhoods to 76.1% in least deprived neighbourhoods.

Time taken to get an appointment is the most common reason for not seeing a GP

  • The most commonly reported barrier to seeing a GP was 'time taken to get an appointment too long', at 11.5% for adults and 7.6% for children.
  • One in 10 adults (10.7%) reported not seeing a GP due to cost in the 12 months prior to the 2021/22 survey.
  • One in thirty adults (3.3%) had an unfilled prescription due to cost in 2021/22, down from 7.3% in 2011/12.

Sexual orientation

  • 94.2% of adults identified as heterosexual or straight, 2.0% as gay or lesbian, 3.1% as bisexual and 0.8% as another sexual identity in 2021/22.
  • More than one in ten (11.1%) young people aged 15–24 years now identify as bisexual, compared with less than 1% of adults aged 45 years or older.

Go to Improving the health of New Zealanders to find out what’s being done by the Government in the areas covered by the key results of the New Zealand Health Survey.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    17 November 2022
  • Citation:
    Ministry of Health. 2022. Annual Data Explorer 2020/21: New Zealand Health Survey [Data File]. URL: https://minhealthnz.shinyapps.io/nz-health-survey-2021-22-annual-data-explorer/
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
  • Copyright status:

    Owned by the Ministry of Health and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

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