Typical Kiwi happy, eating and sleeping

11:24, May 25 2009

New Zealanders sleep, eat and drink more than most of the rest of the world and, unsurprisingly, are fatter, a new study shows.

The report, from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), paints a picture of life in 30 developed countries.

However, despite being shorter and paid less than people in other countries, Kiwis are relatively happy with their lot.

The study also reveals that people living in New Zealand watch less TV and are able to find a work-life balance.

Only France was ahead when researchers rated the amount of time spent eating and drinking.

Christchurch woman Sally Green-Bartolomei, who, along with husband Francois, divides her time between New Zealand and France, said Kiwis' emphasis on food and drink was surprising.

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"Here, it tends to depend on the circles you move in. We've got some avid foodies in our country but in France food is important for everyone no matter where you come from."

In the area of equality, New Zealand was well ahead of the pack. It was one of only three countries where women had more leisure time than men.

Green-Bartolomei said New Zealand was "a lot more egalitarian". "In some rural (French) communities, women just don't go out drinking in a cafe or bar. Here women have more friends outside the family. It's a lot more social here."

Most New Zealanders rate life satisfaction at 7.5 out of 10 the OECD average was 6.7.

However, New Zealand is second only to Ireland in terms of "conventional crime", including robbery, sexual offences against women, assaults, consumer fraud and thefts from cars. Thirty per cent of those polled said they felt unsafe or very unsafe on the street after dark.

The study also shatters several national stereotypes Kiwis play the least amount of sport, have a problem with obesity and have less leisure time than many other nations.

The study, released yesterday, gives an overview of social trends and policy developments in OECD countries. It finds that the French sleep the most an average of nearly nine hours a day, the Norwegians play the most, and that Mexicans and the Japanese spend the most time in front of the television.

The French slept for an average eight hours 50 minutes, with Kiwis fourth with about eight hours 35 minutes sleep per day.

Despite the moderate amount of time Americans spend eating each day - about an hour and a quarter - the US obesity rates are the highest in the 30-member OECD, with 34 per cent of the population with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over the critical 30 mark.

New Zealand has the sixth highest rate of obesity, worse than just three years ago.

Kiwis' life expectancy is 81.9 years for women and 77.9 years for men, the 21st lowest of 30-member countries.

The Dominion Post