Background: This study attempted to assess the time trends in lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors in the Swiss region of Vaud-Fribourg (population 784,000).
Methods: Three surveys (1984/1985, 1988/1989, and 1992/1993), based on independent representative samples (n = 3,300) of the population ages 25 to 74, were conducted within the framework of the international WHO-MONICA Project.
Results: The most favorable changes were observed in reported behaviors: increased physical activity in leisure time, healthier dietary habits (switch from unskimmed milk, butter, and meat to skimmed milk, margarine, and fish, with no change for fruits and vegetables), and lower prevalence of regular smoking among men (from 32 to 28%). Body mass index did not vary significantly, apart from an increase in the prevalence of obesity among men (from 11 to 15%). Total cholesterol varied only slightly, while the HDL cholesterol levels decreased steadily (from 1.37 to 1.19 mmol/L among men; from 1.59 to 1.51 among women). Average systolic blood pressure regressed among women (from 127.2 to 124.4 mm Hg), while the prevalence of untreated hypertension increased among older men.
Conclusion: The self-reported changes in lifestyle were only partially reflected by favorable trends in objective measurements. Physical activity, even at moderate intensity, and consumption of fruits, vegetables, and fiber in general should be promoted.