Ethnic disparities in nutrition-related mortality in New Zealand: 1997-2011

N Z Med J. 2006 Aug 18;119(1240):U2122.


Aims: To estimate the mortality due to non-optimal levels of systolic blood pressure, total blood cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), and vegetable and fruit intake amongst Maori and non-Maori in New Zealand in 1997. In addition, to estimate the ethnic-specific burden of disease that could potentially be avoided in 2011 if exposure to these risk factors were reduced.

Methods: The study uses comparative risk assessment methodology, a systematic approach to estimating both attributable and avoidable burden of disease developed by the World Health Organization.

Results: About 47% of deaths among Maori and 39% of deaths among non-Maori were estimated to be due to the selected risk factors. Age-standardised mortality rates for attributable ischaemic heart disease burden were consistently higher in Maori for individual risk factors. Age standardised mortality attributable to BMI was relatively higher for Maori, especially diabetes mortality. Estimates of avoidable mortality suggest that the health gains for Maori would be relatively greater than for non-Maori across all risk factors, but particularly with improvements in BMI.

Conclusions: Non-optimal levels of systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, and to a lesser extent vegetable and fruit intake are major modifiable causes of death in New Zealand. Small changes in risk factor levels could have a major impact on population health within a decade, with relatively greater health gains for Maori.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Comorbidity
  • Cost of Illness
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / mortality
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / statistics & numerical data*
  • Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Disorders / ethnology*
  • Nutrition Disorders / mortality*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / ethnology
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Vegetables


  • Cholesterol