Health in Malta
Life expectancy at birth in Malta was estimated to be 79 for men and 82 for women in 2013. The infant mortality rate was 4.4 per thousand live births in 2015. 23.5% of the population were over 60 years old in 2013.
Although a Mediterranean diet is considered healthy, reducing the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke by a third the Maltese diet, said to be influenced by the 200-year British rule and the proximity to Italy does not have the same beneficial effects. Biscuits, chocolates and sweets are more popular than nuts and fruit and in general the population follows a more Westernised diet than geography might indicate.
In 2015 it was estimated that 10.69% of the population has diabetes, costing about $2,113 per person per year. Diabetes prevention programmes in Malta get a lot of political backing.
In 2015 the World Health Organisation reported that Malta had the highest overweight and obesity rates in the European Union, and third in the whole of Europe, after Andorra and Turkey. In 2011 it was reported that 21.1% of women and 24.7% of men were obese and 29.5% of Maltese children aged 11–15 were either overweight or obese. It was suggested that this was a result of increased trade and urbanization, and an associated decrease in physical activity and increase in consumption of oil and sugar based foods.
Education Minister Evarist Bartolo established a programme of screening and testing school children to establish their body mass index in June 2015. School tuck shops will not sell soft drinks, but only water.
The Today Public Policy Institute described the population as "one of the fattest, laziest and most car-dependent nations on the planet" in December 2015. Physical laziness was said to be legendary. Their report condemned the government's approach to public health, and to encouraging activity in particular, saying that the "living and transport environment has been systematically degraded to the extent that people are not inclined to opt for active mobility options but use their car as default transport, even for short journeys". Malta is theleast physically active country in the world, with 71.9% of the population inactive. A very high proportion of children are inactive, watching three hours of television or more per night. Less than 1% cycle regularly and the country is reckoned to be the worst and most dangerous country for cycling in the EU.
A ban on smoking in all enclosed public places came into force in January 2013. An earlier law of 2004, the second in Europe, had restricted smoking to designated areas, ventilated and totally cut off from the rest of the establishment. The EU anti-smoking campaign HELP: A Life Without Tobacco had found the earlier ban had beneficial effects. The government offers Tobacco Dependence Support Classes at clinics around the island and a Quit Line and Free phone service for those who want to stop smoking.
- "Malta". World Health Organisation. 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
- "Mediterranean diet is healthy... but Maltese isn’t". Times of Malta. 9 March 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- "Top 10: Which country has the highest rates of diabetes in Europe? The UK’s position might surprise you…". Diabetes UK. 27 August 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
- "Malta has highest obesity rate in the EU". Times of Malta. 24 September 2015. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- "Why Are The Maltese So Fat?". International Business Times. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- "Obesity: A holistic approach is needed". Malta Independent. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- "‘Maltese most obese, laziest and most car-dependent’". Times of Malta. 16 December 2015. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- "Total ban on smoking in public places from 2013". Times of Malta. 16 October 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- "Quitting Smoking". Government of Malta. Retrieved 21 December 2015.