Indexed on: 01 Apr '04Published on: 01 Apr '04Published in: European Journal of Epidemiology
Objective: This study evaluates the prevalence of betel-nut chewing among military personnel stationed on Taiwan's offshore islands. Furthermore, this study examines variables to identify which may predict a greater predilection toward betel-nut chewing among the conscript population studied.Methods: A cross-sectional mass screening was conducted of compulsory military service personnel stationed on Taiwan's offshore islands between August 1 and December 31, 2001. A total of 7574 military employees were included in this survey. Information regarding betel-nut chewing habits were ascertained using a standard structured questionnaire, which including the level and duration of betel-nut chewing as well as respondents' knowledge, attitude and practices with regard to consumption of this product.Results: Conscripts were found to be less likely to chew betel-nut regularly while performing military service. There are 1535 (20.3%) of respondents reporting to habitually chew betel-nut prior to active duty shrank to 1048 (13.8%) after going on active-duty. The most reasons to chew betel-nut among the recruits after military services are curiosity (33.3%) and as a stimulant (29.8%). About 46% of military employees who currently chew betel-nut report an interest to quit in the future. The risk factors for betel-nut chewing include individual factors (e.g., age, education, knowledge, and attitude toward betel-nut chewing), lifestyle habits (e.g., cigarette smoking), and familial factors (e.g., consumption of betel-nut by parents). More interesting, the recruits had the habit of cigarette smoking associated with increase risk for betel-nut chewing (OR: 7.18; 95% CI: 5.66–9.20).Conclusions: Although the military has made considerable progress in reducing betel-nut chewing on military campuses, the prevalence of betel-nut chewing is still relatively high and, in 2001, affected about one quarter of all military personnel stationed on the abovementioned offshore islands. In future efforts to lower betel-nut consumption among high risk groups, targeting the group of conscripted military personnel described in this study should be considered.