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REPORT SAYS SLOVAK COUCH POTATOES NEED TO DRINK LESS, SMOKE LESS, AND EAT BETTER FOOD

Too much meat, not enough veg

OUT OF all Slovaks, southern men are the most frequent wine drinkers, central Slovakia's women are the most frequent female beer drinkers, and more than 50 percent of Slovakia's adult population do not exercise enough, according to a recent report.
The report was compiled by employees of Flóraporadňa health centres, including professional doctors and advisors on how to keep a healthy lifestyle, to map health trends in more than 40 Slovak towns and cities.
The information was gathered from more than 22,000 people over the last five years, and shows that the county's adult population still prefers fatty steaks to vegetable dishes, although Slovak women and the younger generations are slightly more aware of how to live a healthy lifestyle than other members of society.

OUT OF all Slovaks, southern men are the most frequent wine drinkers, central Slovakia's women are the most frequent female beer drinkers, and more than 50 percent of Slovakia's adult population do not exercise enough, according to a recent report.

The report was compiled by employees of Flóraporadňa health centres, including professional doctors and advisors on how to keep a healthy lifestyle, to map health trends in more than 40 Slovak towns and cities.

The information was gathered from more than 22,000 people over the last five years, and shows that the county's adult population still prefers fatty steaks to vegetable dishes, although Slovak women and the younger generations are slightly more aware of how to live a healthy lifestyle than other members of society.

Flóraporadňa centres work with the State Health Institute (ŠZÚ) to provide health advice to people who are interested in improving their lifestyle, or even getting rid of their dependence on alcohol or smoking. The centres offer free blood pressure tests, and analyses of other general health indicators.

The report, issued on May 27 this year, showed that Bratislava has the highest proportion of male smokers in the country, with more than 40 percent of men smoking in the capital, as opposed to the estimated 25 percent rate in the population as a whole.

Eastern Slovaks top the charts in terms of eating vegetables - nearly 50 percent of men and 59 percent women in eastern Slovakia eat them regularly.

Central Slovaks lead in beer drinking, with 44 percent of men and 11.3 percent of women from the region enjoying a beer regularly, the report said.

Central Slovak men, however, also lead the charts in drinking hard alcohol - 22 percent - while Bratislava women lead the female league in drinking spirits, with nearly 6 percent saying they drink liquor regularly.

In the report, southern Slovaks cite meat as their favourite food, while Slovak women in general prefer chicken, and eat more vegetables than Slovak men do.

According to doctor Jana Jurkovičová from Flóraporadňa in Bratislava, the high consumption of meat and unhealthy lifestyle of a large part of the adult population results in a high prevalence of deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases.

"From the existing data, it is clear that the high death rate in Slovakia resulting from cardiovascular diseases comes down to unhealthy lifestyle and diet," Jurkovičová said.

She said that while in more developed countries cardiovascular diseases cause about one third of all deaths, in Slovakia as many as 55 percent of deaths are a result of cardiovascular problems.

To improve Slovaks' health habits, the state-run ŠZÚ along with the Flóraporadňa offers free health advice to all who want to change their bad habits and start enjoying a healthy life.

However, a more focused national campaign promoting a healthy lifestyle in not in place. Some months ago, Health Minister Rudolf Zajac pointed out that according to World Health Organisation statistics, Slovaks on average visit their doctors 16 times per year, while EU citizens see their doctors an average of six times per year.

But although those numbers may have more to do with the minister's claim that Slovaks misuse the public health system, which was free until recently, it is certainly an indicator that Slovaks have a long way to go before gaining sufficient awareness about healthy lifestyles and the prevention of diseases.

"The evaluation of the results from the five years of our activities shows that in the area of healthy diet and healthy lifestyle, Slovaks still have plenty of shortcomings," the Flóraporadňa report stated.

According to Flóraporadňa statistics, nearly 50 percent of Slovaks realise that there is a direct link between their health problems and their diet and lifestyle. But despite that, many still continue to indulge in high-fat food and various smoked meats.

In an effort to encourage inhabitants of the western Slovak town of Trnava to focus more on health, two so-called Health Days were held in the town on June 14 and 15, when locals could have various health indicators such as blood pressure, fat, and cholesterol level measured. Plenty attended, according to media reports, and were eager to find out how to improve their health.

Miriam Ondincová from the Trnava branch of the ŠZÚ said that there were several steps Slovaks could take in order to live better.

"An elementary change in people's lifestyle is to start working out regularly," she said.

According to a recent Health Ministry report on the state of Slovaks' health, "there is more than a 50 percent risk of high cholesterol levels [in the population], and an equal prevalence of overweightness, including obesity, in men and women. That leaves a lot of work still to be done by centres like Flóraporadňa.

"Because there is no national programme aimed at the prevention of diseases resulting from unhealthy lifestyles, our centres have to keep making an effort to supplement education in this sphere," Jurkovičová said.

"We are happy that often whole families come to us, so the good word gets spread further."

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