The number of smokers in Spain has fallen to 22%, the lowest proportion this country has seen in 30 years, though the decline is slowing in pace, especially in women. According to last year's National Health Survey, 74% of the population perceives their state of health to be 'good' or 'very good'.
The survey, conducted using data from 29,195 people, indicates that men are healthiest, as 77.8% said that they feel well, compared to 70.4% of women. What's more, women make more use of health services.
Nevertheless, when surveyed about their lifestyle, women tended to smoke and drink less and were less likely to be overweight, although this gap closes beyond the age of 85.
Increased adult obesity
According to the data collected by the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Wellbeing, adult obesity has increased in the last 30 years from 10% to 17%. It is more frequent in men (18.2%) than in women (16.7%). The figure in children is at 10%. The survey states that obesity is more prominent among those with a lower income, especially for women.
In addition to reduced smoking, the consumption of alcohol has also gone down. According to the survey, 36.5% of adults drink alcohol on a regular basis, 12 percentage points fewer than in 2006. At 49%, the amount of male drinkers is double that of women (24.6%).
With regards to young people, one in ten of those aged between 15 and 34 years old will binge drink on a monthly basis and one in twenty will do so every week.
The survey, which covers 30 years' worth of data, also shows improvements in nutrition, with an increase in breast feeding and in consumption of fruit, though the latter, alongside vegetables, must increase further.The data also indicates that the population perceives their own health as improved. The largest change has been among those aged between 65 and 74. The proportion of this age group who believe they are in good health has increased by 15 percentage points since 1987.
Some risk factors remain
Risk factors for cardiovascular problems and other chronic illnesses remain prevalent: high blood pressure (19.8%), high cholesterol (17.9%), obesity (17.4%) and diabetes (7.8%). In fact, in many cases, these issues have doubled over the last three decades. 37.8% of the population lead a sedentary lifestyle during their free time. This problem is worse in women (41.9%) than in men (33.5%).
The proportion of the population that needs at-home carers has grown by five points since 2014 and the percentage of over-65s who have trouble carrying out household tasks has risen from 47% to 52%.
The use of health services has evolved over the last two decades. Spain has seen an increase in citizens who choose to use preventative methods such as observing their own blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, as well as attending checks for breast, cervical and colon cancer.