Lifestyle-related risks: are trends in europe converging?
Sommaire de l'article
OBJECTIVES: What has become of lifestyle differences in a united Europe, where member states become more and more similar on aspects such as welfare systems and population dynamics? In this paper, we try to answer the question whether the gap in lifestyle-related risk factors in Europe has narrowed over the past 30-40 years. METHODS: Smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, obesity and food consumption all have an impact on cancer, cardiovascular disease and other non-communicable diseases. Databases of Eurostat, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and the World Health Organisation were screened for data on lifestyle-related risk factors in the European Union, and a literature search was performed for studies that collected international comparable data about the selected factors. RESULTS: The gap in European lifestyle has narrowed over the past 30-40 years for smoking (women), alcohol consumption and total fat intake. For fruit and vegetable consumption, convergence is not occurring. For some risk factors, such as smoking and obesity, intranational differences surpass the international differences. CONCLUSIONS: The results support the notion of convergent lifestyles among Europeans over time. We also found that there is a serious lack of reliable data on lifestyle-related risk factors that are suitable for international comparison. It is essential to invest in reliable and internationally comparable data, obtained according to best evidence, to get more insight into real differences regarding risk factors in Europe. The European Public Health programme may be an opportunity to realize these goals.