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Men in northeast smoke, drink more: report

Men in the northeast of the country tend to smoke more than those living in the southwest, government research suggested Thursday.

A similar pattern was detected with drinking, and generally the health of men living in the northeast was worse than that of those in the southwestern region.

According to an annual Ministry of Health and Welfare report on health by region, released Thursday, the male adult smoking rate in Gangwon and North Gyeongsang provinces marked 49.6 percent and 49.3 percent, respectively, compared to North Jeolla Province’s 43.5 percent and Daejeon’s 41.9 percent.

The drinking rate for residents of Jeju and Gangwon provinces marked 23.1 percent and 21.4 percent, far higher than South and North Jeolla provinces’ 16.6 percent and 16.5 percent.

“This may due to different regional demographic characteristics. In the Jeolla areas, there are more elderly people, so the chances of binge drinking and chain smoking are slimmer there than in youth-crammed areas. Also the wealth and industries of the region must have played a significant role, too. Those who are wealthier tend to control their drinking and smoking urges better, while industrial workers tend to relieve stress through smoking and drinking,” a ministry official said.

The report also found that the overall health of people has become worse.

Those with a body mass index of more than 25 accounted for 23.3 percent last year, a slight increase from 22.5 percent in 2010. The number of people who regularly exercised also fell. Only about 41.7 percent said they regularly walked for more than 30 minutes a session more than five times a week last year, which is a slight decrease from 2010’s 43 percent.

“We will use the statistics to draw up the future directions and strategies for smoke-free or walking campaigns,” said Park Jung-bae, a ministry official.

The research was based on a survey of people over 19 years old registered at local public healthcare centers in 2011.

By Bae Ji-sook (