NEWS

Greeks let their health go

A large number of Greeks are shortening their lives by up to 10 years because they eat poorly, exercise little, and avoid precautionary medical tests, according to a nationwide health survey that was made public yesterday. Over the last three decades, Greece has slipped down the life expectancy table. It once had the third-highest life expectancy in the world but is now ranked 15th. Greek men are expected to live until they are 78 and women until they are 82. A change in diet and a rise in unhealthy practices mean the quality of daily life has dropped, according to Yiannis Toundas, the director of the Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine (ISPM), one of the bodies involved in the Hellas Health 1 poll. According to research by Metron Analysis, 40 percent of the 1,000 people questioned said they smoke. More than 44 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 said they are smokers. Two in three smokers said they want to kick the habit but Toundas said there is not enough help for them at medical clinics. Greeks are also eating too much red meat, the poll suggested. The average weekly consumption is 140 grams per person whereas it should be no more than 60 grams. The consumption of seafood and chicken has fallen below recommended levels. Greeks eat 100 grams of chicken and seafood a week but should be eating up to 360 grams. People are damaging their health further by eating too many sweets and, according to a third of respondents, skipping breakfast. A lack of exercise is a key problem for Greeks’ health, experts said. The survey found that 34 percent of Greek men and almost 45 percent of Greek women do not even walk for half an hour each week. The ISPM said it will run an advertising campaign for the next two months to heighten awareness about the health problems. A helpline is also available on 210.722.2727.