Brazilians smoke less, drink more, get fat

In the last five years, the percentage of Brazilians who smoke has fallen by about 1 percent, according to a government survey released today. The success prompted a Ministry of Health official to call Brazil “an example for the world in the fight against smoking.” But the drop was basically the only good news in a report intended to document behavior that puts people at risk for chronic disease.

Even as they’re stubbing out those butts, Brazilians are drinking more and getting fatter. The number of Brazilians drinking to excess rose from 16 percent of the population to 18 percent since 2006. And almost half the population is overweight, rising five percentage points in five years. There are big differences by gender: 18 percent of men smoke, compared to 13 percent of women. Men drink three times more than women, and 52 percent are overweight, compared to 44 percent of women.

The culprits behind rising obesity here are exactly what you might think: bad diet and scant exercise. Brazilians eat too few fruits and vegetables, and increasingly less beans, a traditional staple. And just fifteen percent of adults work out in their free time.