Kiwis not eating enough fruit and vege, half of adults not exercising enough - study

We aren't eating enough fruit and vegetables, and half of adult Kiwis aren’t exercising for the recommended two-and-a-half hours every week, a study by the Ministry of Health has revealed.

Exercise NZ CEO Richard Beddie joined Breakfast this morning to talk about the alarming figures and the failure of the government’s messages. Source: Breakfast

Exercise New Zealand chief executive Richard Beddie joined Breakfast this morning to talk about the "slightly generous" self-reported figures.

"We generally find if anything, self-reported people give themselves a bit more credit than they probably deserve," Mr Beddie said.

He says the reason behind the alarming figures is due to "a failure on a whole bunch of different levels".

"A lot of the messages have been about what we ought to do, and that includes physical activity and, in fact, eating fruit and vegetables is just, 'Please do this'. If the message was that simple, then no one would smoke, no one would drink too much, we'd all exercise and we'd all eat fruit and veges.

"Quite simply, we're talking about something that's quite difficult because it's a behaviour change. Anyone that's ever tried to get a four-year-old to brush their teeth knows that behaviour change in human beings is difficult and we need to treat it as such."

Mr Bleddie says the way forward is for the government to "work with industry and industry to work with employers".

"Employers are part of the solution here in terms of working with 'what are the solutions that can make more people active?' It includes going to the gym, but it's not just going to the gym."

He says one of the solutions being discussed is tax, including implementing a sugar tax or taking GST off fruit and vegetables.

"At the moment, there's a really big disincentive for anyone to invest in exercise, particularly if you're an employer, because actually, fringe benefit tax applies, so a lot of the solutions we have for government is 'please get out of our way' so actually make it easy to invest in their exercise, whether that be through their employer, or a group of people wanting to do it."

Mr Bleddie's number one piece of advice: "For anyone out there who is not currently active is find the thing you like the most, and if you don't like any activity, then be honest with yourself and find something you hate the least and do that".