A report from AIA NZ has uncovered the five risk factors that lead to the five most common preventable non-communicable diseases which account for more than 90% of deaths in New Zealand.
The findings – published in an AIA report called 5590 – and based on research originally founded by the United Nations, demonstrates how many of the world’s deaths are caused by lifestyle factors that contribute to preventable but deadly diseases.
It says the five risk factors of physical inactivity, poor nutrition, smoking, excess alcohol and environment interaction, contribute to five common non-communicable diseases:
- Respiratory disease
- Heart disease
- Poor mental health
Further local independent research conducted by the insurer shows that Kiwis vastly underestimate the impact non-communicable diseases have in the community. Half think they account for only 10% to 50% of deaths. In reality these diseases account for 90%.
Nick Stanhope, AIA NZ Chief Executive, says the case for focusing on health promotion and preventing non-communicable diseases is stronger than ever.
“Covid-19 has been on our minds for the past year, with more than a third of Kiwis thinking Covid-19 was responsible for the most deaths globally in 2020. However, the more insidious threat is non-communicable disease.
“At AIA NZ, we believe it’s our social responsibility to move away from simply being a payer of claims, to partner with Kiwis to live Healthier, Longer, Better lives.”
AIA’s report shows that nearly three quarters of New Zealanders know someone who has suffered from a non-communicable disease. Furthermore, a third of those surveyed have suffered from a non-communicable disease.
A third of Kiwis have also suffered a period of poor mental health or mental illness in their life, and more than half know someone who has suffered a period of poor mental health or mental illness.
“Mental wellbeing is becoming an increasingly important pillar for Kiwis both individually and as an integral part of business operations,” says Stanhope. “Naturally, it was important for us to incorporate poor mental health into 5590 as a non-communicable disease.”
The reports states that poor mental health and other NCDs share several common causes and outcomes, and can frequently occur in the same person. For example, depression increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease at an early age, while cardiovascular disease increases the chance of developing depression.
“AIA NZ wants to increase peoples’ control over their own health by engaging and empowering individuals and communities to choose healthy behaviours and make changes that reduce the risk of developing non-communicable diseases,” Stanhope says.
“Central to AIA NZ’s preventative healthcare focus is AIA Vitality, our market-leading health and wellbeing programme. Through AIA Vitality members are empowered and incentivised to make small lifestyle changes with the aim of decreasing their risk of developing a non-communicable disease.”
The company says New Zealand AIA Vitality members have taken enough steps to walk to the moon and back nine times, 3,200 members have had free Vitality health checks, 1,000 Kiwis have had Molemaps and $27,000 has been donated to AIA Vitality charity partners.
“If we can get Kiwis to build healthy habits over time or live in less risky conditions, then we can reduce the incidence of health problems associated with these risk factors. In turn, we will create a healthier country and a health system built on prevention as opposed to treatment,” says Stanhope.