Open Access Research article

Higher prevalence of smoking and lower BMI, waist circumference, cholesterol and triacylglyceride levels in Prague's homeless compared to a majority of the Czech population

Dana Kubisová1*, Věra Adámková2, Věra Lánská2, Pavel Dlouhý1, Jolana Rambousková1 and Michal Anděl1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nutrition, Third Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague, Ruská 87, Prague 10, 100 00, Czech Republic

2 Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Vídeňská 1958/9, Prague 4, 140 21, Czech Republic

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:51  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-51

Published: 5 April 2007



Homeless people have higher morbidity and mortality rates than the general population. Research has shown that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in older homeless adults. This study was undertaken to describe the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in the homeless population in Prague.


Data was obtained from a cross-sectional study carried out in 2003. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), total cholesterol (TC), triacylglycerides (TAG) and smoking habits were assessed. The homeless participants in the study were recruited from a homeless center run by a Prague charitable organization called Naděje ("Hope") and at Prague's main railway station. Most participants were assessed at the Naděje center (134 persons) while the rest were assessed at Prague's Bulovka University Hospital (67 persons).


A total of 201 homeless (174 males and 27 females) aged 19 – 70 years were examined. Mean values of BMI, WC, TC and TAG in homeless men and women were within normal limits. Compared with the majority of the Czech population, the homeless had significantly lower mean levels of TC and TAG and lower BMI and WC values. When compared to the majority of the Czech population, the incidence of smoking among the homeless was significantly higher. Among smokers in both populations, no differences were found in the number of cigarettes smoked per day.


Classical cardiovascular risk factors such as TC, TAG, BMI and WC, are significantly lower in Prague's homeless minority than in the majority of the Czech population. However, the prevalence of smoking is much higher in the homeless population.