The number of overweight or obese people in Belgium is mounting at the same time as smoking and regular drinking habits decline, a new federal health survey showed.
Published by Sciensano, a public health research institute of the federal health ministry, the report's figures, gathered throughout 2018, showed that as fewer Belgians picked up smoking or drank regularly, a growing number ate poorly and led a sedentary lifestyle.
The percentage of regular and occasional smokers aged 15 and over has been steadily declining since 2001 to reach 19.4% in the survey, RTL reports. Additionally, the figures also show that over half (57.5%) of Belgians have never smoked.
With a prevalence rate of 76.6%, the survey shows that significant portion of the population aged 15 or over is still drinking, with 20% of the survey's young participants reporting binge drinking at least once every month, the outlet reports.
But the population's "growing awareness about the health risks posed by alcohol and tobacco" consumption, which Sabine Drieskens, a researcher at Sciensano said could explain the report's figures, are yet to make inroads as regards exercise and a healthy diet.
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Nearly half (49.3%) of the population was overweight and that 15.9% suffered from obesity, the figures, based on the respondents' body mass index (BMI), showed.
"These figures are worrying," Drieskens told the outlet. "Being overweight can have seirous consequences for human health."
According to Sciensano, the hike in the number of overweight and obese people, could be attributed to an increasingly sedentary way of life.
The average person spends up to 6 hours per day sitting and the number of people who declared exercising at least once per week averaged 30.1%, RTL reports.
Additionally, only 32.7% and 38% of Belgians aged 6 and over eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables, respectively.
Conversely, one in five persons drinks a sugary drink every day and 38% of Belgians eat a sugary or savoury snack daily.
The Brussels Times