Chronic diseases, smoking and sedentary lifestyle make people feel unhealthy

01/07/2014 15:00

Many people in the Dutch population suffer from one or more chronic diseases. A large part of them do not feel healthy. An unhealthy lifestyle, i.e. physical inactivity and smoking, also often results in people rating their own health as poor.

Nearly half suffer from chronic diseases

Nearly half in the Dutch population indicate to suffer from at least one chronic disorder. More women (53 percent) than men (40 percent) suffer from one or more chronic disorders. Chronic disorders are also more common among older than among younger people. For example, 35 percent of 20 to 29-year-olds suffer from one or more chronic disorders, versus 81 percent of over-75s. Hypertension, migraine and degenerative joint disease affecting hips and knees are frequently reported complaints.

Share of people with at least one chronic disorder, 2013

Share of people with at least one chronic disorder, 2013

Suffering from one or more diseases has effect on how people rate their health

People with chronic disorders more often do not feel healthy. For example, 34 percent of people with at least one chronic disorder and 64 percent of people with three or more chronic disorders rated their own health as less than good, versus only 5 percent of people without chronic disorders.

People tend to rate their own health as less good after myocardial infarction or stroke

Among people aged 12 years and older with one chronic disorder, the rate who perceived their health as less good was notably high among those who had suffered a stroke or myocardial infarction.  These people are usually older. People only suffering from chronic eczema or psoriasis approximately as often perceived their health as less good as people without chronic disorders. Eczema as the only chronic disorder is predominantly found in young people.

People with 1 disorder (12 years or older) who rate their health status as less good, 2010/2013

People with 1 disorder (12 years or older) who rate their health status as less good, 2010/2013

If the figures are adjusted for age, gender and other disorders, chronic intestinal disorders prove to be the most frequent cause for people to rate their own health as less good. The risk for people suffering from intestinal disorders to rate their health as less good is nearly 4 times as high as for people who are not suffering from this disease. For diabetics patients, the risk is 3.6 times as high as for non-diabetics.

Perceived health less good among smokers and people with sedentary lifestyle

Chronic diseases have the strongest effect on people’s perception of their own health. Age and having an unhealthy lifestyle also play a part in this respect. Analysis shows that, if the effects of age, gender and disorders are taken into account, the risk for people who do not take enough exercise and smoke to rate their own health as less good is 2.6 times as high as for people who do not have an unhealthy lifestyle.  Not taking enough exercise, even if people do not smoke or drink heavily also has a significantly negative effect on people’s perception of their own health.
 
Marieke Houben-van Herten and Jan-Willem Bruggink