A risky occupation? (Un)healthy lifestyle behaviors among Danish seafarers

Hjarnoe, Lulu; Leppin, Anja
December 2014
Health Promotion International;Dec2014, Vol. 29 Issue 4, p720
Academic Journal
Sedentary working conditions, smoking, unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise are some of the lifestyle risk factors that form a potentially growing problem for seafarers within certain parts of the maritime sector creating a heightened risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Health promotion initiatives to combat this negative development requires as a first step identifying the magnitude of the different risk factors. A survey was conducted in 2007–08 with two Danish shipping companies on seafarers’ health, wellbeing, diet, smoking and physical activity. In addition, a health profile was offered to the respondents, consisting of physiological measurements, such as fitness rating, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol measurement and blood pressure. The response rate in the questionnaire study was 57% (n = 360) of which 76% (n = 272) of the respondents received a health profile. Results (males) showed 44% daily smokers compared with 32% in the general Danish adult male population. Twenty-five percent of the seafarers were obese with a BMI > 30 compared with 12% of the Danish adult male population. Fifty-one percent of the respondents were defined as having metabolic syndrome, compared with 20% of the Danish adult male population. Seafaring is a risky occupation when looking at the seafarers’ health and wellbeing. The results of this survey confirm the need for health promotion interventions such as smoking cessation courses, healthy cooking courses and physical exercise programs, etc. that can enable healthier lifestyle. The challenge will be to take into account the special seafaring conditions when implementing the interventions.


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