Brazilians are smoking less but continue to lead sedentary lives, a survey by Brazil’s Ministry of Health (Vigilância de Fatores de Risco e Proteção para Doenças Crônicas por Inquérito Telefônico – Vigitel Brasil 2010) has found. Making matters worse, they do not eat healthy food.
According to the Vigitel Brasil 2010 study, smokers as a percentage of the population fell from 16.2% to 15.1% between 2006 and 2010.
However, a breakdown of those numbers by gender shows two different portraits: the percentage of male smokers dropped from 20.2% to 17.9%, while the percentage of female smokers remained steady at 12.7%.
The secretary of Health Institute, Jarbas Barbosa, calls the reduction “slow,” and says the problem of smoking is worse among the less educated.
“We have been successful with our advertising campaign, but we can do more,” says the secretary. Packs of cigarettes in Brazil carry shocking pictures of diseases smoking can cause.
As for Brazilian eating habits, the study shows people eating less beans (an important source of iron and fiber) and more fatty milk and meat.
Rice and beans were once essential items in any meal – but the number of people eating beans has fallen over a five year period from almost 72% to 66%.
Another cause for concern is the consumption of fruit and vegetables. Only 18% of the population eats the required amounts, according to the study.
Finally, Vigitel Brasil 2010 found that the number of Brazilian adults who can be considered sedentary is on the rise. Only 18.6% of adult males, and 11.7% of adult females, practice physical activities regularly.
The survey has also found that 48.1% of Brazilians are overweight and 15% can be considered obese. Five years ago, 42.7% of the population was overweight and 11.4% obese.
The problem is more acute among men: 52.1% of them are overweight, while only 44.3% of women are.
Deborah Malta, who is in charge of Non-Transmittable Diseases at the ministry says there is real concern as their data shows the number of overweight persons is rising steadily at 1% per year.
According to Jarbas Barbosa, secretary of the Health Institute, at this rate Brazil will reach United States levels of obesity within 13 years. “This is a cause of real concern,” says the secretary, adding that the problem is worse among women with little formal education.