Men who live in major betel nut growing counties are likely to develop the habit of chewing the stimulant, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday, citing a recent survey.
In the nationwide survey conducted last year, the Bureau of Health Promotion found that the rate of betel nut chewing was 17.6 percent to 23.8 percent among men living in counties such as Pingtung, Nantou, Hualien, Chiayi and Taitung, which are some of the main betel-nut producing areas in the country.
This was significantly higher than in cities such as Taipei, Tainan, Hsinchu, Kaohsiung, Taichung and Keelung, where less that 10 percent of the male population chew the nut, said Chen Mei-ju (陳美如), section chief of the bureau’s Division of Cancer Control and Prevention.
In terms of age, the survey found that men between 30 and 39 topped the list of betel nut chewers, followed by those in the 40 to 49 and 50 to 64 age brackets.
Middle-aged men often chew betel nut to socialize with their coworkers or to boost their physical performance on the job, Chen said.
Besides age and place of residence, education and income are two other factors that influence the betel-nut chewing habit, she said.
The survey found that men whose education did not go further than junior high school and who earn between NT$20,000 and NT$40,000 per month are more likely to develop the habit, she said.
Nonetheless, the habit is declining among men, having fallen from 17.2 percent in 2007 to 12.5 percent last year, Chen said.
The survey was conducted in the form of a questionnaire distributed to 16,000 men aged 18 years or older, between April and September last year.