Survey highlights unhealthy habits

  • 2011-10-12
  • From wire reports

RIGA - Men, residents in rural areas and less-educated people are the groups that practice unhealthy habits the most often, shows a study of habits that affect Latvian residents’ health, reports LETA. Iveta Pudule from the Center of Health Economics said in a Sept. 29 press conference that residents’ habits vary among different age groups, place of residence, education levels and genders.

According to the survey, two-thirds of women and only 40 percent of men brush their teeth every day, whereas almost half of men and one-fifth of women smoke on a daily basis. Forty-five percent of residents are overweight, but half of the men who are obese say their weight is normal, or even insufficient. Women are more realistic about this issue.

Rural inhabitants eat less fruits and vegetables than those who live in cities. Pudule indicated that this was due to the average age and eating habits of the rural population, but Health Minister Juris Barzdins (Unity of Greens and Farmers) added that people with higher education, mostly living in cities, practiced healthier habits.
As for alcohol abuse, 87.7 percent of men and 81.3 of women have used alcohol during the last year. Respondents were also asked whether they knew anyone who had tried drugs. 21.4 percent said they did; the majority were Latvians, Rigans or respondents with primary education.

The overall results show that Latvian residents are trying to change their unhealthy habits - they smoke less compared to previous years, their eating habits are becoming healthier and they exercise more. The number of overweight adults and children, however, is increasing.
The survey will help doctors to establish causes of diseases, and it is also a major contribution to the health care industry that encourages action based on facts, says associate professor of the Public Health and Epidemiology Department at Riga’s Stradins University, Anita Villerusa.

The results of the survey will also be used for the development of Public Health Policy, said Barzdins.
The survey was carried out from April to June; 3,010 respondents aged 15 to 64 were interviewed. The respondents were chosen according to their gender, age and place of residence. The survey was part of a Finnish-Baltic cooperation project.