The health report shows that those with higher income and education smoke less and eat better. *iStock photo
The health report shows that those with higher income and education smoke less and eat better. *iStock photo

Nearly two-thirds of Bermuda residents are seriously overweight — but don’t accept it, the latest health statistics show.

The Health Disparities Report said that a massive 68 per cent of Bermuda residents were listed as overweight using the standard body mass index (BMI) measurement.

But — in a questionnaire — only 45 per cent regarded themselves as being overweight.

The Health Disparties Report, prepared by the Bermuda Health Council BHeC), said: “This means some respondents perceived their weight as normal, despite that they were overweight according to BMI.”

The survey also found that the lower-income groups were more likely to be overweight than the two groups of higher earners.

And it was also found that there was a direct link between poverty and ill-health, with poorer people more likely to suffer from illness than richer ones — with race or gender having little impact on the figures.

Significant determinant

Dr Jennifer Attride-Stirling, CEO of the Health Council, said: “The findings show that low income and education are more significant determinants of poor health than other demographic characteristics like gender and race.

“Poor health ultimately leads not only to suffering by individuals and families, but to economic dependence, creating a vicious cycle where poverty leads to ill-health and ill health leads to poverty.

“We hope the results of this report will be of value to policy makers and the healthcare community.”

She added: “Many of the findings are similar to those of other countries – health inequalities exist everywhere. But we need local data to plan programmes that will target our local problems. 

BHeC health economist Dr Michelle Ye added the differences could not be explained by looking at “luck, genetics or even behaviour and access to medical care.”

She said: “This is because disparities in behaviour and access are also products of social and economic disparities.

“As evidenced by this report, major health inequalities are strongly associated with social and economic factors. Other factors such as race or gender have little or limited roles.”

Low income households — those on $60,000 or less a year — were far more likely to have members with no health insurance (25 per cent) compared to just 10 per cent for richer people.

And — although lower income people have poorer health — more than a third (34 per cent) spent nothing out-of-pocket on health care in the month before the survey. Lower income people also spent less on health – although, as a percentage of their income, they forked out 20 per cent on health care compared to just three per cent for wealthier households.

And non-employed people of working age were more likely to use emergency healthcare services or Government clinics than those with jobs.

The survey also found that richer people with better education smoked less, ate better and were less likely to have sex lives that put them at risk of HIV.

But people with higher incomes and good education were more likely to binge drink, while people with post-school qualifications were also more likely to drive when drunk.

And women were found to live healthier lifestyles than men — they smoke less, eat better and are involved in fewer road accidents and are more likely to wear a seatbelt when behind the wheel.

But the survey found that women worried more about becoming victims of violence — and were more likely to be victims of domestic abuse.

The survey also found that people with lower income and education had poorer mental health as well as physical, which included more dissatisfaction with their lives, less social support, a higher incidence of chronic illness, more disability and obesity but less use of health services.

The survey added: “Race was associated with few health inequalities, where a relationship existed, the findings generally indicated poorer outcomes among ‘other’ race individuals, self-identified as mixed race, Asian, and so on.”