One in six inhabitants of the Caribbean Netherlands is a smoker, one in eight is a heavy drinker and over six in ten are overweight. Half of the population are getting sufficient exercise. Women smoke and drink much less than men, but are more likely to be obese and exercise less. These are some conclusions from the Health Study which was conducted in the Caribbean Netherlands in 2017.

In collaboration with the Public Health departments of the public entities Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) conducted a health monitoring survey in the Caribbean Netherlands in 2017. This Health Study Caribbean Netherlands was held to gain insight into the overall health status of the island population and into common infectious diseases, as well as to examine whether the population is well protected against the infectious diseases against which they are vaccinated as part of the National Vaccination Programme. A total of 1,900 people participated in the study.

Comparison with European Netherlands

Due to methodological differences, the above results cannot be compared one-on-one with the figures for the European Netherlands. However, it can be concluded that there are relatively fewer active smokers in the Caribbean Netherlands. Conversely, non-smokers are significantly more likely to inhale other people’s smoke compared to the European Netherlands (this share is even 4 times higher in children). Furthermore, there are many more obese people in the Caribbean Netherlands, with the obesity rate at least twice as high.

Local health policy

The results from the Health Study Caribbean Netherlands are used in drawing up the public health report that each island makes. These reports are an important basis for shaping the health policy on the islands by the local government. Information about unhealthy behaviour is important because it can lead to diseases such as diabetes, various types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.