New package of advice for adults on diets, weight management and sleep

News article

30 November 2017

The Ministry of Health has today published updated clinical weight management guidelines for New Zealand adults along with advice for adults on how to get started on a weight loss plan, how to spot a good and bad diet, a review of popular diets and sleep tips. The main components of weight management are food, activity – including reducing sedentary time, and sufficient sleep and behavioural strategies.

Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr Harriette Carr, says an important recommendation from the updated guidelines is regular weight monitoring in primary care by doctors and nurses.

‘This way weight gains are picked up earlier and acted upon before someone puts on too much weight.’

A patient’s BMI should be calculated at this time as well – a healthy body-mass-index is 18.5 to 25 kg/m2. Adults can also check their own weight two to three times a year and make small changes to their eating, activity and sleep to stay healthy.

The Ministry’s guidelines can be found at Clinical Guidelines for Weight Management in New Zealand Adults.

Dr Carr says there is a lot of different advice available to people wanting to lose weight particularly around different diets. To help guide people the Ministry has provided brief advice on popular diets to support the guidelines.

‘Overall, the Ministry recommends a balanced diet that aligns with the Eating and Activity Guidelines. Of the popular diets reviewed, based on current evidence, the two diets that most-align with our advice are the Mediterranean Diet and the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension or DASH.’

The Ministry’s advice on eight popular diets can be found at Popular diets review, along with the tips at Spotting good and poor weight loss diets.

Dr Carr says people need to build activity into their everyday routine so it is not an add-on.

‘People need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week for weight maintenance and general health; 250 minutes a week is recommended for supporting weight loss. If you’re more active, don’t compensate by eating more or you won’t get the benefit.’

Sleep can often be forgotten says Dr Carr.

‘Sleep affects human behaviour and food choices. It affects whether we have the energy to be active. It also has an influence on other things such as driving ability. It’s particularly important to get good sleep over the summer holidays when people are driving long distances.’

The latest NZ Health Survey has found that about a quarter of all adults may not get the recommended seven to nine hours sleep a night and only half of adults over 65 are meeting their sleep recommendation of seven to eight hours a night.

The Ministry’s advice can be found at Sleep tips for adults.

With summer starting, it is a great time to look at making positive changes to our eating, activity and sleep, and to support family and friends to make healthy choices.

The Ministry’s advice can be found at Getting started with your weight loss plan.