Are fish eaters healthier and do they consume less health-care resources?

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Objective: Regular dietary intake of fish is associated with reduced risk of developing cardiovascular and other chronic diseases, and may improve general well-being. If fish eaters are healthier, they may use fewer health-care resources. The present study aimed to describe the reported intake of fish and fish products in a Danish general population, and to investigate whether fish consumption is associated with generic measures of self-reported health and consumption of health-care resources.

Design: Data on eating patterns and health status for 3422 Danish adults were obtained by telephone interview in the Funen County Health Survey. These data were merged with individual-level register data on health-care utilisation. Survey respondents were categorised into those consuming fish at least once weekly (fish eaters) and those consuming fish less frequently (non-fish eaters).

Results: People who reported eating fish twice monthly or once weekly had significantly better overall self-reported health than those who rarely eat fish, even after adjustment for age, gender, social characteristics and lifestyle factors. Fish eaters did not have significantly lower aggregated health-care costs, although their hospital utilisation was  significantly lower than that for non-fish eaters.

Conclusions: Moderate fish consumption was associated with better self-reported general health even after controlling for possible confounding variables. Overall, fish eaters appeared to use the same amount of health-care resources as non-fish eaters, although fish eaters used more medicine but were less likely to be admitted to a hospital.

JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Pages (from-to)453-460
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • fish consumption, Self-reported general health, resource utilisation, health-care osts, Denmark