Prevalence of health risk factors among fishermen: a review

Elpida Frantzeskou, Olaf Jensen, Athena Linos

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Studies have shown that fishermen have a higher mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer and accidents. The majority of cardiovascular disease is caused by external risk factors such as the diet, tobacco, alcohol and lack of physical activity. The purpose of this paper was to review the available information on the prevalence of these preventable risk factors in order to strengthen the preventive strategies.
A search for the last decade was done via Medline, Google and Google Scholar with the keywords "diet, tobacco, alcohol, physical exercise, overweight AND fisherman OR fishing and only those with precise prevalence estimation were included.
One Turkish, Scottish, Spanish, Greek and a Danish study were found. The prevalence rate for current smoking varied from 40 % - 82 % in the countries. Daily alcohol use also varied with 80%, 78% and 68 % among the Scottish, the Greek and the Turkish fishermen respectively. For the diet, 23% of the Scottish fishermen reported eating fruit and vegetables more than once a day at sea and only 29% at home. The Spanish study reported “excessive calorie consumption while on shore, notably high in animal fats and accompanied by moderate–high alcohol consumption. On many vessels, food was limited to coffee, sandwiches and occasionally fruit on board. 66% of the Greek fishing workers did not perform any kind of exercise outside work. Obesity (Body mass index > 30.0) was found for 33 % of the Greek fishermen. Of the Danish fishermen 25%-, 34% and 37% were obese in the 18-24, 25-44 and 45-64 years age groups.
Health risk factors among fishermen need to be highlighted and further investigated as they represent occupational risks of major impact to chronic diseases prevalence with projections to quality and duration of fishermen’s life, but also to their future career in fisheries sector.
Original languageEnglish
Article number157
JournalOccupational Medicine & Health Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30. Apr 2014


  • fishing
  • Smoking
  • diet
  • alcohol
  • obesity
  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Physical activity


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