Kiwis not so sun smart – In the News

In the latest update from the Wellington Kids’Cam study – which put cameras on local kids to record the children’s environment – it seems Kiwis are less sun smart than previously thought.

The University of Otago study fitted cameras to 168 children in the Wellington region aged between 11 and 13, which recorded the children’s environment over four days. The data gathered included images of 2,635 children and adults in outdoor areas including beaches, playgrounds and outdoor pools.

In a new study, published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal, the researchers found only 4.3 of people wore sun protective hats, and only 10.7 per cent were under shade at times when sun protection was warranted.

Lead author Ryan Gage told Newstalk ZB more people died from melanoma every year than in car accidents, with 90,000 diagnoses and 500 deaths from skin cancer many of which are caused by overexposure to the sun.

Gage told Newshub New Zealand doesn’t have a sustained sun safety programme, “in contrast to Australia they have run a sustained programme over the last 30 years or so”.

“However, in New Zealand, we haven’t seen a campaign like that since about 2008.”

Cancer Society CEO Mike Kernaghan told Stuff the results were, unfortunately, unsurprising. “Apart from what [we’re] doing with programmes like SunSmart Schools, there’s little else in the way of sustained, national campaigns. Yet we have the highest rate of melanoma in the world.”

Christchurch group SkinCan announced this week it will provide free sunscreen dispensers at three sites across the city this summer, which they believe is the first time the approach has been tried in New Zealand.

The research was covered by local media, including:

Newshub: Popular kids’ areas need more shade – Otago University study
Otago Daily Times: Not enough kiwis sun-safe: new report
Stuff: Kiwis’ sun smart knowledge slip, slop, slipping away
Newstalk ZB: Study shows alarming number of Kiwis aren’t protecting themselves from sun