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2013 | 20 | 3 |
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The level of health education in the Polish population

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Background: The study assessed factors influencing awareness of Poles concerning lifestyle factors that affect development of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Methods: A questionnaire survey covering awareness of lifestyle factors performed by general practitioners in 37,557 unselected patients. Results: 96.1% of respondents believed that lifestyle has an impact on the occurrence of CVDs, especially: tobacco smoking (91.4%), excessive intake of fat (81.3%), alcohol (67.5%), salt (64.9%), and stress (64.9%). 79.0% respondents believed the smoking cessation, 77.5% weight loss and 66.8% healthy diet are most important to prevent diseases. Additionally, the belief in the need for an early weight reduction decreased with increasing BMI (82.9% with normal weight vs. 77.5% overweight and 70.4% obese). The most common source of health education was a physician (75.8%), the mass media, such as television and the press (62.0% and 64.8%, respectively), less often were educational materials (37.8%) and books (20.3 %), the Internet (3.8%) and radio (0.8%). Younger respondents presented a higher level of awareness about all analysed aspects of healthy lifestyle. The multiple regression analysis revealed that low education level and rural residence are the most important factors decreasing awareness of the lifestyle effect on health. Conclusions: 1. The level of knowledge about non-pharmacological methods of preventing lifestyle diseases in the Polish population is high except of the role of physical activity and daily vegetables consumption. This, however, has no impact on reducing the percentage of overweight and obese people and on increasing the tendency to pursue lifestyle changes. 2. Frustrating is the fact that more than one fifth of the study population is unaware that excessive weight reduction prevents development of cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, the convince to early weight decreases with increasing BMI. 3. The highest level of the knowledge among younger subjects reflect improvement of health education in Polish population. 4. In addition to education performed by physician the main sources of patients knowledge are television and the press with the growing role of the Internet among younger. 5. Further health education programs are necessary, which should include not only activities that increase the level of health education and health awareness, but also aspects such as changes in beliefs, sense of self-efficacy and social support.
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  • Health Promotion and Obesity Management Unit, Department of Pathophysiology, Medical University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland
  • Pathophysiology Unit, Department of Pathophysiology, Medical University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland
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