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Prevalence of chronic illnesses in Belgium 2001-2018

From 2001 to 2018, the prevalence of chronic illness increased in Belgium. During this period, the share of the Belgian population who suffered from a chronic disease increased by 4.2 percent. In 2018, over 29 percent of Belgians, aged 15 years and older, suffered from a chronic affliction. From a regional perspective, the prevalence of chronic illness in Flanders stood beneath the country average. On the other hand, the prevalence of such conditions was especially high in Wallonia, where one-third of the population suffered from a chronic illness.

Prevalence of chronic conditions and gender disparities

Regardless of gender, back pain was the most common chronic condition in Belgium. In 2018, roughly a quarter of the Belgian population suffered from back pain. However, the prevalence of certain chronic conditions varied greatly in terms of gender. Indeed, the second and third most common chronic conditions for Belgian men were hypercholesterolemia and high blood pressure, whereas the most common chronic conditions for Belgian women were osteoarthritis and allergies. Nonetheless, a common ground was found for allergies as it was the fourth most common condition for men.

The evolution of back pain in Belgium

In recent years, back pain appears to be affecting an increasing number of people in Belgium. Since 2008, the prevalence of lower back pain among Belgian men increased by five percent and by three percent among Belgian women. In 2018, over 23 percent of men and 26 percent of women were subject to back pain in Belgium. Such a condition can find its origin in various other health conditions but can also be a result of a sedentary lifestyle.

Share of the population who suffers from a chronic illness in Belgium from 2001 to 2018

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Release date

July 2019



Survey time period

2001 to 2018

Number of respondents


Age group

15 years and older

Special properties

Population in Belgium

Method of interview

Online survey

Supplementary notes

* The number provided here is the total number of respondents for 2018. The survey respondents were as follows:

  • 2018: 4,673 men, 5,079 women;
  • 2013: 4,343 men, 4,770 women;
  • 2008: 4,417 men, 5,234 women;
  • 2004: 5,164 men, 6,056 women;
  • 2001: 4,928 men, 5,228 women;

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Statistics on "Physical health in Belgium"

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