Women missing out on health improvements

On Friday, Socialstyrelsen, the National Board of Health and Welfare, released its annual Health Report. The conclusion: women are sicker than men.

“Health development seems to be going men’s way,” said Gudrun Persson, project manager at Socialstyrelse, at the press conference.

Swedes are among of the healthiest people on the globe, declared the board’s press release.

Since 1990, men’s life expectancy has increased by three years for women to 82.4 years and by two years for men to 77.9 years. The infant mortality rate is the second lowest in the world behind Japan.

The increase in life expectancy is attributed to less smoking, better eating habits and improved medical treatment, which have led to a decrease in heart and vascular problems. Deaths caused by diabetes have also decreased among women but not men.

The numbers of deaths caused by alcohol-related diseases have also changed, with a decline in deaths in all age groups, except among those over the age of 65. A change in the drinking habits of the population is the main factor; more wine and beer are being consumed instead of heavier alcohol.

But experts say there are serious warning signs that should not be ignored, particularly when it comes to young women’s health.

Mental illnesses, an increase in sick leave and increased alcohol consumption worry experts. Obesity has also increased in all age groups since the 1980s, especially among women between 16-34 years.

“Anxiety, fear and pain seem to affect women more than men,” said Gudrun Persson.

Swedish children and teenagers are very healthy when compared to children in other countries, but warning signs are also present here. Nervousness, headaches and stomach aches are among the symptoms that have increased significantly among the group. Allergies and asthma have become increasingly common.

Children’s diabetes, type 1 diabetes, is on the rise among young children but does not seem to have increased in general. Instead, the disease presents itself at an earlier age.

The National Board of Health and Welfare appeared to be most concerned by teenagers’ living habits. Fifteen year olds – especially girls – are drinking more. But the good news is that the number of high school students who have experimented with some kind of heavy drug has decreased since the year 2000.

One conclusion the report presents is that the mortality rate, in all age groups, seems to be higher among those who lack higher education than those with a higher education. The report also noted that smoking and obesity are a more common problem among foreigners than Swedes.