Women now more sedentary than men, health authorities say

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Aug 06, 2013 - Page 3

The nation’s population as a whole is sedentary, but Taiwanese women are even less physically active than men, Director-General of the Health and Promotion Administration Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) told the International Conference on Women and Health in Taipei yesterday.

At the conference, Chiou discussed various health issues affecting Taiwanese women today, including obesity, an imbalanced gender ratio at birth and an increase in expected years of disability.

The life expectancy gap between men and women has increased from 4.1 years in 1960 to 6.7 years in 2011, with women living longer than men as a higher prevalence of smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and betel nut chewing take their toll on male’s life expectancy, Chiou said.

“However, the downside of women living longer is that they also have to experience more years of disability than men, with the average female living for 7.6 years with a disability, compared with 6.3 years among men,” she said.

Compared with their counterparts elswhere in Asia, Taiwanese women are the ones who spend the least amount of time doing physical activity, Chiou said.

“Taiwan’s ratio of obese and overweight people is lower than Western countries’, but higher than in most Asian countries,” she said.

Chiou said that although Taiwanese women are on average slimmer than men for most of their lives, they tend to gain more abdominal fat and become more overweight than men after menopause.

“Higher obesity rates lead to a higher prevalence of hypertension, hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia among post-menopausal women,” Chiou said.

However, the gender ratio imbalance has improved, partly due to government efforts to promote fetal rights, as well as a decline in gender discrimination, the bureau said.

“Last year, the ratio hit its lowest level in 25 years at 1.074, compared with 1.079 in 2011,” Chiou said.