The greatest dangers to Jordanians
Al Ghad today has two interesting health related stories. The first involves a study on obesity in Jordan, claiming that 73% of adult Jordanians are overweight, and 46% have high blood cholesterol levels. By comparison, US levels obesity levels are around 65%. The researchers attribute these numbers to low levels of physical activity, as studies show that 50% of Jordanians don't exercise. The data in the article is somewhat contradictory, saying the rate of incidence of diabetes is 13%, and refering to a 1996 study which says that incidence rate for this disease was 76%. Have we conquered diabetes, or is there a problem with the sampling? Anyway, it is well known that obesity is closely related to cardiovascular disease as well as other nasty conditions.
The second story is about how the government is forcing cigarette companies to put a picture of diseased lungs on packs of cigarettes. The cigarette companies are complaining, saying that this might lower sales. Duh. I think that's the idea. Anyway, there is interesting data on the prevalence of smoking. In Jordan 50% of adult males and 18% of adult females smoke, as well as an alarming 21% in the 13 to 15 year old age group.
A study published last year (based on 2003 data) shows that 38% of deaths in Jordan can be attributed to heart disease, 14% to cancer and 11% to accidents. The King Hussein Cancer Center has data showing that lung cancer is the most prevalent type among males, with breast cancer being the most prevalent among females.
So, while Jordanians seem to have irrational fears about earthquakes, bird flu and nuclear leaks, they also seem to have irrational ambivalence towards the real dangers that affect their health, doing little to live healthier lives, exercise, fight first and second hand smoke and treat the roads with the reverence they deserve.
Are you still sitting there? Go for a walk, and stay on the sidewalk if you can.