Adrian N Ionescu
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de Marin Pana | 11.12.2016 .
Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables is considered an important factor of health and balanced diet. However, an Eurostat report warned that more than one third of the population aged 15 and above in the European Union do not eat them on daily basis and only slightly less than 15% of all meet the recommended “norm” of a daily intake of five portions.
Guess what country appears in this ranking on the last position. Of course, Romania, which holds the unwanted record of only 3.5% representing almost ten times less than the champion United Kingdom (33.1%). Now, it would be understandable for the GDP per capita ratio to penalize us in terms of standard of living, but in no case can this be put on the lack of vegetables and fruits, nor on their too high prices at local level.
Theory says that there are six critical factors for life expectancy, critical for moving from a reactive to a proactive healthcare system. In order of importance, they are diet, education, health care, hygiene, rest, exercise and friends. Obviously, apart from friends (friends in need are friends indeed), we do badly in all chapters.
But leaving the joke aside, 60% of health problems are caused by unhealthy diet, which makes public education a critical factor for Romania. With direct consequences in terms of pressure put on the healthcare system but, especially affecting life expectancy and, especially, the expectancy regarding a healthy life and the period suitable for a productive activity.
It is noted the direct correlation checked in practice in all the European countries between the level of education and consumption of vegetables and fruits, but also (from our point of interest), the differences far higher in our case between people with a low level and those with a high level of education.
Another peculiarity is that we, Romanian, spend more on cigarettes than on vegetables and fruits (6.10% versus 5.84% in the CPI basket).
Daily consumption of fruits and vegetables in the EU countries, in 2014 (% of population aged 15 and above)
Country Not daily 1-4 portions 5 or more portions
Note: there are no data available for Ireland
A ratio of less than 50% representing the amateurs of these products as share of this age category of total population cannot be found anywhere in Europe except for the Czech Republic. Only that our educated people do worse than their poorly educated ones. Not that they would not be in both categories by about six percent below the European average. Even in the category of 1-4 servings of vegetables and fruit a day (where Greeks, Slovenians, Austrians and Croatians catch up somehow), we rank by far the latest.
Poles, Slovaks or Hungarians might also be still on the path towards reducing the gap to the West, but at least they eat healthier than us. To top it all, our Latino fellows from Portugal, France, Italy or Spain, who by chance have a life expectancy higher than countries with similar level of development, do much better than us, although not reach the levels from the Netherlands or Denmark.
In fact, before the house, car, objects, etc. it is all about health.
In 2050, a third of the population will be over 60 and 80% of the cost of medical care will be generated by the treatments for chronic diseases, unless there will be changes started right from the daily food, disease prevention and early detection made as much as possible outside hospitals.
Before the mega-investments in hospitals and equipment, before we allocate 7% of GDP to healthcare (thereabouts is the European average), we have very handy, given the pedoclimatic conditions, a resource that is not waiting but a change in our personal lifestyle software. Before investing in production capacities, technologies and other similar things, would it not be useful to start with what we have at hand?