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RISK FACTORS OF NCDs

The four major NCDs have four common modifiable risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol,

TOBACCO USE:

TT STEPS Survey showed:

  • About 1/5 of the population of TT smokes and the prevalence is much higher among men than among women.

  • Approximately 17% of persons are exposed to secondhand smoke in the home, as well as at the workplace.

  • The average age of initiation to smoking is around 17 years in both sexes and manufactured cigarettes are the preferred form of tobacco use.

 

Report of Trinidad and Tobago PANAM STEPS CNCD Risk Factor Survey, Ministry of Health, 2012

ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION 

  • Forty percent of population are current drinkers (consumed a drink within the previous 30 days)

  • Young persons engage in binge drinking or heavy episodic drinking – (5 or 4 drinks for men and women respectively on any one day in the last 30 days).

  • Nearly 60% of alcohol users in TTO either rarely eat food while drinking or do not do so at all. (Alcohol is absorbed at an accelerated rate on an empty stomach!).

  • Drinking begins at an early age - the Global Health School Survey, 2011, showed that in TTO, among the 13-15 year olds, 45% of students had an alcoholic drink in the month preceding the survey, with 80% of these children admitting to having a first alcoholic drink before the age of 14 years.

PHYSICAL INACTIVITY

  • In TT, for the age group 15-64 years, men spend more than 100 minutes per day whereas women spent only 14.3 minutes.

  • Twice as many males than females engage in high level activity but more females engage in low or moderate physical activity.

  •  Physical activity tends to be seasonal among both genders.

UNHEALTHY DIETS

  • From the STEPS survey it is evident that the diet of the population of Trinidad and Tobago is sorely deficient in fruits and vegetables.

FIFTY-ONE PERCENT OF THE POPULATION HAD THREE OR MORE RISK FACTORS, AND AS COULD BE EXPECTED, THE PERCENTAGE WAS HIGHEST IN THE AGE GROUP 45-64 YEARS, WHERE IT WAS 65%.

Uncontrolled behavioural risk factors lead to four key metabolic changes that increase the risk of NCDs:

  • Raised blood pressure

  • Overweight/obesity

  • Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) and

  • Hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood).

Obesity in TT:

  • In the age group 15-64 years, among females, 34% were overweight and 32% obese. Among men of the same age group, 40% were overweight and 19% are clinically obese.

  • Childhood obesity is of particular concern due to its impact on the development of risk factors later in life. Research has shown that 25% of school-aged children (5-18 years) is overweight or obese.

Who is at risk of NCDs? EVERYONE

People of all age groups, regions and countries are affected by NCDs. Children, adults and the elderly are all vulnerable to the risk factors contributing to NCDs, whether from unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, exposure to tobacco smoke or the harmful use of alcohol.