According to independent research undertaken by Sovereign, financial worries, alcohol and work pressures were exposed as some of the leading factors as to why Kiwis are adding years to their age.
The research was based on the Sovereign ‘Health Age Generator’ – a survey developed by Synergy Health Research, analyses key physical, mental and behavioural components.
This information is used to calculate penalty years (indicating a negative health outlook compared to the norm), or bonus years (indicating a positive health outlook compared to the norm); to generate a personalised health report with recommendations on what steps can be taken to improve overall health.
The findings revealed Kiwis are more senior in health years than actual years of life, with a national average of two penalty years being added to the biological age of Kiwis. On the extreme end of the health spectrum 20 penalty years were noted.
Money worries topped the list of stress disruptors for Kiwis, ahead of family, health, work and even personal problems
Dr John Mayhew, Sovereign Chief Medical Officer, says there is no time like the present to draw a line in the sand and review how everyday choices can have a positive or a negative impact on your health.
“The research shows that our lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on our health and as a nation we have a bit of work to do – particularly when looking at stress, alcohol consumption and how work pressures are impacting our health. The great news is that even a couple of small positive changes can have a powerful impact on our overall health.”
Synergy Health Research Manager, Jamie Scott, highlights the ways stress in particular can drive poor health behaviours.
“Key stressors can drive poor food choices, sleep patterns, physical activity levels and poor socialisation patterns. From these patterns, you see the early stress indicators appear, then eventually the more pathological states, such as high blood pressure, poor blood sugar, high inflammatory states, all of which impact the brain as much as the body and fuels further stress. But poor behaviours, not driven by a specific stressor, can lead to stress itself.
“Someone who is eating poorly and staying up late, will invariably get tired, not want to move much, will eat more junk food to self-medicate, and then may start to make poor financial decisions or abuse drugs and alcohol to control the stress, leading to personal and family problems, poorer health, and so on. You can easily see the vicious cycle people can fall into.”