APH 1997, 55, 27-61:

Fourty years of evolution of mortality in Belgium and The Netherlands.

J.V. Joossens, and H. Kesteloot

Keywords: mortality, life expectancy, fat intake, salt intake, smoking habits

Age adjusted mortality in Belgium (B) and The Netherlands (NL) was calculated from 5 yearly age-specific death rates between the ages 45-74 and 75-85+ years.  Mortality was available in Belgium from 1954 to 1991 or 1994 (depending on the cause of death) and from 1950 to 1993 in The Netherlands.  In the 45-74 years age class all-cause mortality decreased in B between 1955 and 1992 with 33% in men and 48% in women.  In NL this was 11% and 40% respectively.  In the age class 75-85+ it was 21% and 37% in B, and 4% and 36% in NL, respectively.  Since 1980 to the last available year there was a marked decrease in mortality in the age class 75-85+ years in men and women from B and no change in NL.  Wallonia always had the highest mortality, followed by B, Flanders and NL.  However, recently the observed mortality in Flanders
was the lowest.
Mortality trends, in both age classes and sexes, were obtained between 1980 to the last available year for 11 causes of death in men and 13 in women.
Among 48 possible comparisons, 38 (79%) were in favour of B, 9 in favour of NL and 1 ex aequo.
Life expectancy in 1992 was compared in the 15 E.U. countries.  For both sexes together B ranked 8th, NL 3rd.  The difference in life expectancy between the two countries was 3 years in 1967 and 1 year in 1992.  Flanders ranked 5th (0.3 year lower than NL) and Wallonia 14th (2.2 years lower) when substituded for B in the E.U. Portugal had the best and Denmark had the worst results between 1967 and 1992).
Changes in life style-fat, salt, fruit and vegetable intake and smoking habits-which occurred since 1960 in B, its regions and in NL are consistent with the changes in mortality and life expectancy.  Curative medicine and medical technology cannot explain the observed differences and trends.