The Daily Herald writes that three quarters of the population of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba – the Caribbean Netherlands feel healthy, despite the fact that 61 per cent of the people are overweight. The Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) published the results of the Omnibus survey on Thursday, which was carried out on all three islands in June and July, 2013. The CBS researchers randomly interviewed close to 1,900 people in the Caribbean Netherlands, 330 persons on St. Eustatius and 299 on Saba, about their health, life style, medical contacts and other issues that affect their daily life such as safety, housing and transport. The data from the survey were used to determine average figures.
Three in every four persons of 15 years and older, or 74.4 per cent, indicated that they generally felt healthy in 2013. On St. Eustatius and Saba, 80.9 per cent and 81.8 per cent (respectively) said they felt healthy; however, 60 percent of the people on all three islands combined are overweight, while 36.5 per cent had a normal weight.
On St. Eustatius, 28 per cent were moderately overweight, on Saba 30.8 per cent; on St. Eustatius 29.5 per cent were severely overweight and 32.4 per cent on Saba. On St. Eustatius 38.8 per cent had a normal weight and on Saba 31.9 per cent. On Statia and Saba there were no differences between men and women where it concerns overweight; on Bonaire, more women than men suffered from severe obesity. Overweight is more common among adults, especially persons between the ages 45 and 65 suffer from this problem; more than 70 per cent of this age group was overweight. People with a higher education are less overweight than those who have a lower education.
High blood pressure, migraine/ severe headaches, diabetes and backaches were the most common ailments; more than 18 per cent of the people on all three islands suffer from high blood pressure and migraine/severe headaches, while 8.4 per cent of the population has diabetes.
Generally, men felt healthier than women. Youngsters were more positive about their health than elderly people. People with a higher education deemed their health better than did those with a lower education level.
Alcohol consumption is a bigger problem on the islands than smoking; close to 12 per cent of people in the Caribbean Netherlands are heavy drinkers and 7.7 per cent excessive drinkers, while on all three islands combined 10.2 per cent of the population smoked cigarettes on a daily basis. On St. Eustatius, the percentage of heavy and excessive drinkers is higher than on Saba. In Statia 14.9 per cent were considered heavy drinkers in 2013, whereas 9.9 per cent were indicated as excessive drinkers. For Saba these figures were 9.5 per cent and 9.1 per cent.
On Saba, 11 per cent of the people smoked cigarettes on a daily basis and on St. Eustatius 7.4 per cent. The percentage of occasional smokers throughout the Caribbean Netherlands was a bit higher at 15.6 per cent, but on Saba this percentage was much higher: 21.3 per cent.
Three quarters of the population in the Caribbean Netherlands visited a general practitioner at least once in 2013. On St. Eustatius and Saba more than 70 per cent went to the doctor; women and elderly visited a doctor more often than men and youngsters.
Half of the population of St. Eustatius and Saba visited the dentist at least once in 2013. On Bonaire and Saba, more women than men went to the dentist. On St. Eustatius an equal amount of men and
women visited the dentist. Youngsters are going to the dentist more often than elderly people: six in every 10 young people between the age 15 and 25 went to the dentist, versus four in every 10 of 65 and older.
The number of people on the islands going to the hospital is relatively high. The average of hospital overnight admissions in the Caribbean Netherlands as a whole stood at 11.9 per cent in the 12 months preceding the CBS inquiry. Twenty-four per cent of the population on St. Eustatius spent one or more nights at a hospital; on Saba this percentage was 10.4 per cent.
On St. Eustatius, 18.4 per cent of the people went to a hospital for one day to see a medical specialist, for Saba this percentage was much lower at 5.6 per cent.
The Omnibus survey was first held for the first time in the Caribbean Netherlands in 2013, and will be repeated every four years. The data will be used for, among other things, policy making in areas like healthcare.