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Diseases

10% of the population is diagnosed with diabetes, and 67 820 new cancer diagnoses are made.

Diabetes

1. Key messages

In 2016, 6.4% of the Belgian population was diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes prevalence is increasing over time as a result of both the ageing of the population and a true increase in the risk of developing diabetes.
The risk of developing diabetes is higher in Wallonia and Brussels than in Flanders, and is higher for individuals with an increased compensation status.

2. Background

Diabetes is a condition that is characterized by recurrent high blood sugar levels. If left untreated, diabetes may cause long-term complications such as foot ulcers, damage to the eyes, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. A diabetic diet and exercise are important parts of diabetes management, but in a large number of cases, insulin treatment will also be required.

A distinction is made between three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes, resulting from an autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas;
  • Type 2 diabetes, mainly caused by a combination of excessive body weight and insufficient exercise; and
  • Gestational diabetes, occurring in pregnant women without a previous history of diabetes.

Nationally representative diagnosis-based information on diabetes prevalence in Belgium is available through the InterMutualistic Agency (IMA-AIM), an organization and platform where data gathered from the seven Belgian health insurance funds are collected and analyzed. IMA-AIM data are, amongst others, made available through the IMA-AIM Atlas [1], a permanently accessible reference source with policy-relevant statistics and indicators derived from the available IMA-AIM data.

In the IMA-AIM database, diabetes prevalence is estimated based on the number of insured people with episodes of prescriptions of antidiabetics (ATC code A10) or with diabetes referring nomenclature (diabetes convention, diabetes pass, diabetes care trajectory). Women who gave birth during the year under review are excluded in order to exclude gestational diabetes.

Socio-economic characteristics are scarce in the IMA-AIM database. The status of “insured people having right to an increased compensation” is the only available proxy indicator, and it has only two values, yes or no. Persons with a low income or specific medical characteristics such as invalidity are entitled to an increased compensation status.

3. Diabetes prevalence

Belgium

In 2016, 6.4% of the Belgian population was diagnosed with diabetes. The prevalence of diabetes increases with age, and is higher among men, especially in the older age groups.

Prevalence of diabetes by age and sex, Belgium, 2016
Source: IMA-AIM Atlas [1]

Trends and regional differences

The prevalence of diabetes is increasing in all three regions, as a result of both the ageing of the populations and a true increase in the risk of developing diabetes. The prevalence of diabetes is highest in Wallonia and lowest in Flanders, despite the relatively higher age of the Flemish population. The relatively low diabetes prevalence in Brussels is the result of the young age structure: when corrected for age, the diabetes prevalence in Brussels becomes higher than the Belgian average.

  • Crude
  • Age-standardized

Crude prevalence of diabetes in Belgium and its regions, 2007-2016
Source: IMA-AIM Atlas [1]

Age-standardized prevalence of diabetes in Belgium and its regions, 2007-2016
Source: IMA-AIM Atlas [1]

Socio-economic differences

The risk of developing diabetes is nearly twice as high among individuals with an increased compensation status than among individuals with a normal compensation status. The prevalence of diabetes has been increasing evenly in both groups.

Age-standardized prevalence of diabetes by compensation status, Belgium, 2007-2016
Source: IMA-AIM Atlas [1]

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Definitions

Age-standardized prevalence
The age-standardized prevalence is a weighted average of the individual age-specific prevalences using an external standard population. It is the prevalence that would be observed if the population had the age structure of the standard population. Since age has an important influence on the risk of diabetes, this standardization is necessary when comparing several populations that differ with respect to their age structure. Here, the Belgian 2013 mid-year population is used as standard population. 
Increased compensation status
Persons with a low income are entitled to an increased compensation status. They pay less for healthcare and have other financial benefits. Currently, this is the only variable available in the IMA-AIM Atlas that allows assessing socio-economic differences.

References

  1. InterMutualistic Agency Atlas. http://atlas.aim-ima.be/base-de-donnees

Cancer

1. Key messages

In 2016, 68,216 new diagnoses of cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) were made, including 36,243 new cases in men and 31,973 new cases in women. Over the past ten years, the number of new cancer diagnoses have increased for both men and women, partly due to the ageing of the population. After correction for age, incidence rates increased only in women. Age-standardized incidence rates are highest in the Walloon Region.
In 2016, prostate, lung and colorectal cancer in men, and breast, colorectal and lung cancer in women were the most frequently diagnosed cancers. Over the past 10 years, the incidence of lung cancer has gone up with almost 50% in women.

2. Background

Cancer is a broad family of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. It is one of the most important disease groups in terms of premature mortality, ill health, and healthcare expenditure. Cancer can be caused by inherited genetic traits, but the vast majority is due to genetic mutations from lifestyle, metabolic and environmental factors.

Data on new cancer cases in Belgium are collected by the Belgian Cancer Registry Foundation. The Belgian Cancer Registry is nationally representative and exhaustive. It collects and records both clinical and pathological data from the anatomic pathology service. The recording of data (topography and morphology) is done using the International Classification of Diseases for Oncology.

The total number of cancer cases is usually presented excluding non-melanoma skin cancers. Although frequently occurring, these cancers are typically not clinically significant. In addition, there is large heterogeneity in the registration of these cancers, impeding comparisons and trend analyses.

3. Cancer incidence

All-sites cancer incidence

In 2016, 68,216 new diagnoses of cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) were made, including 36,243 new cases in men and 31,973 new cases in women. Cancer incidence shows a clear association with age, with the highest number of new diagnoses made in the 65-70 age group. Before the age of 60, cancers are more commonly diagnosed among women, while in the older age groups, cancer diagnoses become more common among men.

Cancer incidence by age and sex, Belgium, 2016
Source: Belgian Cancer Registry [1]

Crude incidence rates are highest in the Flemish Region, while age-standardized incidence rates are highest in the Walloon Region.

Between 2007 and 2016, crude incidence rates of cancer increased for both men and women in Flanders and Wallonia. In the Brussels-Capital Region, however, a decreasing trend is observed. These evolutions are mainly driven by the ageing patterns of the populations, as evidenced by the age-adjusted incidence rates; after age-adjustment, incidence rates were more or less stable in all regions in men, and increased in women in Flanders and Wallonia, while staying stable in Brussels.

  • Men
  • Women

Crude cancer incidence per 100,000 among men in Belgium and its regions, 2007-2016
Source: Belgian Cancer Registry [1]

Crude cancer incidence per 100,000 among women in Belgium and its regions, 2007-2016
Source: Belgian Cancer Registry [1]

  • Men
  • Women

Age-adjusted cancer incidence per 100,000 among men in Belgium and its regions, 2007-2016
Source: Belgian Cancer Registry [1]; Age-adjustment based on European Standard Population.

Age-adjusted cancer incidence per 100,000 among women in Belgium and its regions, 2007-2016
Source: Belgian Cancer Registry [1]; Age-adjustment based on European Standard Population.

Site-specific cancer incidence

In 2016, prostate cancer and breast cancer were the most frequently diagnosed cancers among men and women, respectively. Bronchus and lung cancer is the second most frequent cancer in men and fourth most frequent in women; however, in women, the incidence of bronchus and lung cancer has gone up with almost 50% in the past ten years, while it remained stable in men. Colorectal cancer diagnoses have slightly increased in both men and women, and showed a peak in 2014, when a colorectal cancer screening programme was introduced in Flanders.

  • Men
  • Women

Incidence of the five most commonly diagnosed cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) in men, Belgium, 2007-2016
Source: Belgian Cancer Registry [1]

Incidence of the five most commonly diagnosed cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) in women, Belgium, 2007-2016
Source: Belgian Cancer Registry [1]

International comparisons

Cancer incidence per 100,000 is higher in Belgium than the EU-15 average, both for men and women. Compared to the countries with the lowest incidence rates, the incidence per 100,000 in Belgium is 35% higher among men and 46% higher among women.

  • Men
  • Women

Cancer incidence per 100,000 among men, EU-15 countries, 2014 or nearest year
Source: WHO-EURO Health For All Database [2]

Cancer incidence per 100,000 among women, EU-15 countries, 2014 or nearest year
Source: WHO-EURO Health For All Database [2]

4. Cancer prevalence

331,776 persons (3% of the total Belgian population) were alive by the end of 2013 after having been diagnosed with cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) between 2004 and 2013. This number included 161,166 men and 170,610 women. The crude prevalence per 100,000 was highest in the Flemish Region, while the age-standardized prevalence per 100,000 was highest in the Walloon Region.

Prostate cancer was the most prevalent cancer type among men (67,892 cases, or 1.2% of the total male population in Belgium). Among women, breast cancer was the most prevalent cancer type (80,099 cases, or 1.4% of the total female population in Belgium). Another 31,370 Belgians were alive by the end of 2013 after having been diagnosed with colon cancer in the past 10 years.

Information on the prevalence of cancer yields a different picture than the information on the incidence of cancer. Indeed, cancer prevalence is a function of cancer incidence and survival, and the latter may be very different from one cancer to another. Lung cancer, for instance, has a low survival rate, such that few survivors will be alive at a given moment, despite the high incidence. On the other hand, prostate and breast cancer have both high incidence and survival rates, explaining their predominance in prevalence estimates.

  • Men
  • Women

Ten-year prevalence (absolute numbers) of the most common cancer types among men, Belgium, 2013
Source: Cancer burden in Belgium [3]

Ten-year prevalence (absolute numbers) of the most common cancer types among women, Belgium, 2013
Source: Cancer burden in Belgium [3]

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Definitions

EU-15
The EU-15 corresponds to all countries that belonged to the European Union between 1995 and 2004: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. We compare the Belgian health status to that of the EU-15 because these countries have similar socioeconomic conditions.
Age-standardized incidence
The age-standardized incidence rate is a weighted average of the individual age-specific rates using an external standard population. Here, the European Standard Population is used as standard population. It is the incidence that would be observed if the population had the age structure of the standard population. Since age has a powerful influence on the risk of cancer, this standardization is necessary when comparing several populations that differ with respect to their age structure.
Crude incidence
The crude incidence rate is calculated by dividing the number of new cases observed during a given time period by the corresponding number of people in the population at risk. The crude rate is expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 person years.
Ten-year prevalence
Ten-year prevalence data were estimated with an index date of 31st December 2013, representing people living in Belgium who were diagnosed with at least one invasive malignancy in the period from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2013 and who were still alive at the end of 2013. Persons with more than one malignancy were included as prevalent cases in each cancer type, but were counted only once in analysis regrouping multiple tumour sites.

References

  1. Belgian Cancer Registry. https://kankerregister.org/
  2. Health For All Database. WHO EURO. https://gateway.euro.who.int/en/datasets/european-health-for-all-database/
  3. Cancer burden in Belgium 2004-2013, Belgian Cancer Registry, Brussels 2015. https://kankerregister.org/media/docs/publications/BCR_publicatieCancerBurden2016_web160616.pdf

Mental health

1. Key messages

Many indicators of mental health and emotional well-being point to a worsening of these conditions in the Belgian population. The percentage of people with depressive feelings, anxiety disorders, and/or severe sleep problems has lately shown a strong increase. More people report that they have (had) suicidal thoughts, although the figures for attempted suicide remain constant. A parallel increase in the use of antidepressants is identified, while the use of sleeping pills or tranquillizers remains constant or even decreases.
In general, the indicators of mental health and emotional well-being show a better situation in the Flemish Region than in the other two regions of the country.
Except for the indicators on suicidal behaviours, all indicators related to psychological problems occur more often in women than in men. An important point of attention seems to be women in the 15-24 age group, where a significant increase in depressive and anxiety disorders is observed.
All examined mental health indicators are linked to the educational level. Emotional disorders, suicidal behaviours and use of psychotropic medicines were more frequent in the lowest educated groups compared with the higher educated.

2. Background

Mental health is the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity [1] Due to the high frequency of mental problems in western societies and the significance of their costs in human, social and economic terms, mental health is now regarded as a public health priority. In Belgium, the Health Interview Survey is one of the main sources of systematic data on mental health parameters in the general population aged 15 or older [2]. Among the various dimensions of mental health that are monitored in this survey, we focus on the following three indicators:

  • Indicators of specific psychological problems, based on the self-report psychometric instrument SCL-90-R (Symptom Checklist-90-R)
  • Indicators concerning suicidal thoughts and attempts
  • Indicators concerning the use of psychotropic medicines

However, it should be noted that the evaluation of mental health problems in the population through a health survey has a number of limitations. These are mainly related to the fact that the estimates are based on screening instruments for psychological problems or on the reporting of the individuals themselves, and thus are not obtained by clinical diagnostic tools, which are often more nuanced. Nevertheless, the results of general population health surveys are generally in line with the findings of specific mental health surveys.

3. Psychological disorders

The assessment of specific psychological disorders indicated that, in 2013, 15% of the population older than 15 was experiencing depressive disorders, 10% had anxiety disorders, and 30% reported severe sleeping problems. Compared to the previous survey years, the prevalence of all three types of disorders increased significantly, both at the national and the regional levels. All three disorders have a lower prevalence in the Flemish Region than in Brussels and the Walloon Region.

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Sleeping problems

Prevalence of depressive disorders in Belgium and its regions, 2001-2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2001-2013 [2]

Prevalence of anxiety disorders in Belgium and its regions, 2001-2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2001-2013 [2]

Prevalence of severe sleeping problems in Belgium and its regions, 2001-2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2001-2013 [2]

All three psychological disorders are more common among women than among men. Depressive and anxiety disorders are common among all age groups. An important point of concern are the recent trends among young women aged 15-24 years, with steep increases in the prevalence of depressive disorders (from 7% in 2008 to 21% in 2013) and anxiety disorders (from 5% in 2008 to 15% in 2013).

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Sleeping problems

Prevalence of depressive disorders by age and sex, Belgium, 2013
Source:  Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [2]

Prevalence of anxiety disorders by age and sex, Belgium, 2013
Source:  Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [2]

Prevalence of severe sleeping problems by age and sex, Belgium, 2013
Source:  Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [2]

Psychological disorders are less common in the group with the highest level of education than in the groups with lower educational levels.

Prevalence of psychological disorders by educational level, Belgium, 2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [2]

4. Suicidal ideation and attempts

More people in the Belgian population aged 15 and older report that they have had suicidal thoughts (in their lifetime or recently). In contrast, the percentage of people who have actually tried to commit suicide (in their lifetime or recently) has not evolved. In 2013, 5% of the population said that they had seriously thought about committing suicide in the past 12 months and 0.4% reported having actually attempted suicide in this time period. 4% of the Belgian population aged 15 and older reported at least one suicide attempt during their lifetime.

In the Flemish Region, the figures are more favorable than in the other two regions of the country for suicide (thoughts and attempts) ever in life, but these regional differences are not observed for recent suicidal thoughts and attempts (<12 months).

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicide attempts

Prevalence of suicidal thoughts during the past 12 months in Belgium and its regions, 2008-2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2008-2013 [2]

Lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts in Belgium and its regions, 2004-2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2004-2013 [2]

Recent suicidal thoughts and attempts are as common in men as in women. On the other hand, more women than men report that they have tried to put an end to their lives at least once in their lives.

The indicators of suicidal thoughts and attempts (lifetime or recent) do not show a clear age pattern. Although suicidal thought and attempts are less reported by the elderly (75+), this is in contradiction with the effective suicide figures, which are high among the oldest people, especially so for men.

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicide attempts

Prevalence of suicidal thoughts during the past 12 months by age and sex, Belgium, 2013
Source: Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [2]

Lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts by age and sex, Belgium, 2013
Source: Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [2]

Suicidal thoughts (in lifetime or recently) are not related to the level of education, but the transition to the act would be: fewer people from high education households have attempted to commit suicide, both in their lifetime and in the past 12 months.

Prevalence of recent suicidal ideation and lifetime suicidal attempts by educational level, Belgium, 2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [2]

5. Consumption of psychotropic medicines

In 2013, 16% of the population reported using one of the following medicines in the two weeks preceding the survey (sometimes in combination): sleeping pills or tranquillizers (13%) and antidepressants (8%).

The use of psychotropic medicines is higher in the Walloon Region (19%) than in Brussels (13%) and the Flemish Region (16%). This difference is mainly explained by the higher use of antidepressants in the Walloon Region (9.5% versus 6.9% and 6.7% in Brussels and the Flemish Region, respectively).

During the period 1997-2013, the use of sleeping pills or tranquillizers has remained constant among the residents of the Flemish Region, and has even declined in the Brussels and Walloon Region. The use of antidepressants, on the other hand, shows a rising trend over time in the three regions of the country. For Belgium as a whole, applying these figures on a standardized population in terms of age and sex, the use of antidepressants almost doubled over the 15-year time period (from 4.2% in 1997 to 7.7% in 2013).

  • Sleeping pills or tranquillizers
  • Antidepressants

Consumption of sleeping pills or tranquillizers in Belgium and its regions, 1997-2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 1997-2013 [2]

Consumption of antidepressants in Belgium and its regions, 1997-2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 1997-2013 [2]

Proportionally, women use psychotropic medicines more often than men (20% versus 12%, respectively). The gender difference is particularly evident for the use of sleeping pills or tranquillizers (16% versus 10%), but also for the use of antidepressants (9.5% versus 5.6%).

The use of psychotropic medicines was also much more frequent after the age of 45, especially in the most elderly age group. This increase with age was more pronounced for women than for men.

  • Sleeping pills or tranquillizers
  • Antidepressants

Consumption of sleeping pills or tranquillizers by age and sex, Belgium, 2013
Source: Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [2]

Consumption of antidepressants by age and sex, Belgium, 2013
Source: Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [2]

The use of psychotropic medicines, whatever they are, is more common in households with the lowest level of education.

Consumption of psychotropic medicines by educational level, Belgium, 2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [2]

6. Read more

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HISIA: Interactive Analysis of the Belgian Health Interview Survey

Definitions

Symptom Checklist-90-Revised
The "Symptom Checklist-90-Revised" (SCL-90-R) was used to gauge psychological disorders. It examines the current symptomatology of the person (in the past week). From a technical point of view, the subscales of SCL-90-R correspond to different disorders derived from a factor structure. It is an instrument that has acceptable psychometric criteria and is commonly used in general population studies. The subscales included in the 2013 Health Interview Survey are limited to those of depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and sleep problems.

References

  1. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/mental-health/mental-health-promotion.html
  2. Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 1997-2013. https://his.wiv-isp.be/

Overview

1. Key messages

Non-communicable diseases are conditions that are not transmitted by an infectious agent and that are often chronic in nature.
More than one in four Belgians report living with a chronic disease. There is a clear association with age, with more than half of the population 75+ reporting to live with a chronic disease.
The five most commonly reported non-communicable diseases are low back problems, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, osteoarthritis, and allergy. The prevalence of non-communicable disease has increased over time, and is generally higher among individuals with a lower educational level.

2. Background

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are medical conditions or diseases that are not caused by infectious agents. While sometimes referred to as synonymous with "chronic diseases", NCDs are distinguished only by their non-infectious cause, not necessarily by their duration, though some chronic diseases of long duration may be caused by infections.

NCDs are by far the leading causes of (premature) mortality. In addition, they are also one of the most relevant health problems with a potential impact on the for health-related quality of life, especially for the elderly, and are one of the main reasons for the use of health care services. Information on the prevalence of NCDs is therefore an important indicator of the level of (ill) health in the population.

The Belgian health interview survey (HIS) is one of the sources in Belgium to get information on the prevalence of NCDs at the population level. The advantage of this source is that it also takes into account people who rarely or never make use of health care facilities. It is therefore a valuable tool to obtain representative information on NCD prevalence at the level of the country or a region, and to monitor the NCD prevalence over time. However, the results must be interpreted with caution because the information is self-reported.

In the HIS 2013, questions were asked on the presence of a chronic disease, condition or handicap in general (henceforth referred to as “chronic disease”) and on the presence of 36 specific NCDs.

3. Prevalence of chronic disease

In 2013, more than one person in four (29%) reported suffering from at least one chronic disease. The percentage of people with a chronic disease increases considerably with age, going up from 9.6% for young people aged 15-24, to 53% for the 75 or older age group.

Self-reported prevalence of chronic disease by age and sex, Belgium, 2013
Source: Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [1]

Between 1997 and 2013 the percentage of people reporting to suffer from a chronic disease fluctuated, but overall an increasing trend was observed. Compared with 2004, the percentage of people with a chronic disease increased from 27% to 29%. This increase is mainly due to the ageing of the population, as evidenced by the age-adjusted prevalence estimates, which even tend to decrease. In the Brussels and Walloon region, the percentage of people with a chronic disease is higher than in the Flemish region.

  • Crude
  • Age-adjusted

Crude self-reported prevalence of chronic disease in Belgium and its regions, 1997-2013
Source: Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 1997-2013 [1]

Age-adjusted self-reported prevalence of chronic disease in Belgium and its regions, 1997-2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 1997-2013 [1]

The percentage of people reporting to suffer from a chronic disease increases as their educational level decreases.

Self-reported prevalence of chronic disease by educational level, Belgium, 2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [1]

4. Multimorbidity

Multimorbidity refers to the simultaneous presence of multiple NCDs in the same individual. The HIS measured multimorbidity as the simultaneous presence of at least two out of the following six major NCDs: heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and/or arthrosis, and hypertension.

Overall, multimorbidity is present in 13.5% of the Belgian population aged 15 years and over. Multimorbidity is strongly associated with age, reaching a prevalence of 39% in the population 75+, and is more common in women than in men, also after correction for age.

Prevalence of multimorbidity by age and sex, Belgium, 2013
Source: Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [1]

Multimorbidity shows a negative association with educational level, but no significant differences across regions.

5. Major non-communicable diseases

The top five of the most commonly reported NCDs is the same for men and women, although the order differs. The top five comprises two problems of the musculoskeletal system (low back problems and osteoarthritis), two cardiovascular risk factors (high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels in the blood) and allergy.

Prevalence of 20 most commonly reported non-communicable diseases among men and women, Belgium, 2013
Source: Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 2013 [1]
prev slopegraph 2013

The evolution of the prevalence of NCDs in the general population differs by the type of disease. NCDs that have significantly increased in prevalence between 1997 and 2013 include high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoarthritis and thyroid disease. This increase may in part be explained by the aging of the population; however, even after adjustment for age, the increase remains significant. On the other hand, the prevalence of a number of other NCDs has decreased, including coronary heart disease, chronic bronchitis, severe bowel disease, chronic cystitis, severe headache and migraine, and severe or chronic skin diseases.

  • Crude
  • Age-adjusted
Crude prevalence of selected chronic diseases, Belgium, 1997-2013
Age-adjusted prevalence of selected chronic diseases, Belgium, 1997-2013
Source: Own calculations based on Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 1997-2013 [1]

Regional differences in the prevalence of the included NCDs are generally quite limited, although thyroid disorders are more commonly reported in the Walloon region.

Socio-economic status, proxied in this report by the educational level, is one of the most significant determinant of NCDs. The majority of the 36 NCDs included in the HIS occurs more frequently in people with lower educational levels. This applies in particular to serious NCDs such as cardiovascular pathologies, diabetes, and chronic lung diseases. One notable exception is allergy, which occurs more frequently with increasing educational levels.

6. Read more

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HISIA: Interactive Analysis of the Belgian Health Interview Survey

Definitions

Chronic disease
In the Belgian Health Interview Survey, a global question is asked on the presence of one or more chronic diseases, chronic conditions or handicaps, without specifying the nature of the disease, condition or handicap. For the sake of simplicity, this indicator is referred to in this report as the presence of “chronic disease”.
Non-communicable diseases
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are medical conditions or diseases that are not caused by infectious agents. While sometimes referred to as synonymous with "chronic diseases", NCDs are distinguished only by their non-infectious cause, not necessarily by their duration, though some chronic diseases of long duration may be caused by infections.

References

  1. Health Interview Survey, Sciensano, 1997-2013. https://his.wiv-isp.be/

Sciensano    KCE    Inami-Riziv SPF-FOD