In 2014, according to data from the European Health Interview Survey-Health, Health Care and Insurance Survey (EHIS-ESPS 2014), 70% of the people aged 15 or over in mainland France rated their health as 'good' or 'very good'. One-third of those surveyed report a degraded health status ('fair', 'poor' or 'very poor'), which places France in the European average. And women were more concerned than men: 32% vs 29%. Of the 38% reporting chronic or long-term health problems, 38% were women and 37% were men, and of the 26% reporting a limitation in daily activities, 27% were women and 24 % were men. Health problems, of course, increase with age: 60% of those aged 65 and over actually declare themselves to be in poorer health, compared with 12% of those aged 15-39.
In addition, survey data show that unskilled workers report the poorest health status in terms of perceived health, chronic illness and activity limitations, equally in the latter two dimensions, with the administrative staff.
According to information gathered through the mental health module introduced in EHIS-ESPS 2014, approximately 9% of women and 5% of men living at home present depressive symptoms. The frequency of these symptoms varies according to age, with a marked threshold at the highest ages: when 5% of women and 3% of men between the ages of 15 and 24 have depressive symptoms, it is the case of 10% of women and 4% of men aged 65-74 and 22% of women and 13% of men aged 75 or over.
There are also social inequalities in terms of mental health with a comparable age and gender structure. Employees report significantly more depressive symptoms than the general population (1.6 for commercial employees, 1.4 for administrative employees, and 1.0 for the general population).
The proportion of smokers is slightly higher in France than the average across the European countries: in France, 28% of the population aged 15 or older smoke, 22% daily, compared with 24% in Europe, 19% daily. France is also the sixth country most affected by women's tobacco consumption: 19% of women, compared with 16% in Europe. The highest rate of smoking is concentrated in France in the age group of 25-34 years, 41% of whom smoke, 32% daily and 9% occasionally. Workers and commercial employees are the categories most affected by smoking.
With regard to weight, France has a relatively favorable position in view of the situation in Europe. Half of those aged 15 and over have a normal Body Mass Index (BMI), that is one that does not represent a risk factor, while 46% are excess overweight, 31% being overweight and 15% obese. In Europe, half of the population is excess overweight (35% overweight and 15% obese). In France, while obesity affects both women and men (15% each), excess overweight affects more men (37%) than women (25%). The age group most affected by excess overweight is that of the 65-84 year olds, 40% being overweight and 20% obese. With a comparable age and gender structure, highly qualified workers and intermediate occupations are less exposed to the risk of obesity than the rest of the population.
Interview by Anne Evans