Saturday 22 October 2016

More than one-in-five children has gone to school or bed hungry - report

Published 10/12/2015 | 02:30

Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Health Minister Leo Varadkar

More than one in five children has gone to school or to bed hungry as there is no food at home, according to a new Department of Health-commissioned survey.

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The finding is part of a complex picture which has emerged of children aged 10 to 17 years of age, 16pc of whom say they are dieting, up from 13pc in 2010.

Just 23pc say they eat fruit more than once a day, up on 20pc four years ago.

And only 22pc say they have vegetables daily, the Health Behaviours in School Children survey 2014 showed.

There was a dramatic fall in the numbers having a fizzy drink daily - down to 13pc from 21pc - but only a slight increase in vigorous exercise four or more times a week. Some 52pc said they were this active, versus 50pc in 2010.

There are positive trends in alcohol consumption and drunkenness but 21pc still report having being "really drunk", and one in 10 was drunk in the previous month,

Around 16pc of children said they have smoked, dropping from 28pc four years ago. Some 8pc describe themselves as current smokers but 12pc live in homes where their parents smoke. Fifteen percent of youngsters have been the victim of cyberbullying.

Commenting on the results, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said there were lots of positive findings, with a rise in fruit and veg consumption, and a drop in sweet consumption. The reported levels of general health are good.

"But there are some worrying findings on drinking, smoking and hunger.

"We have made real progress on smoking but this survey shows us we have much more to do in eliminating access to cigarettes."

The HSE noted big improvements since a similar survey was carried out in 2006. Overall, smoking has fallen by 56pc among 10-to-17-year-olds.

This was also welcomed by the Irish Cancer Society, pointing out this generation of children grew up without knowing what it was like to see people smoke in public places or have cigarette displays behind shop counters.

Irish Independent

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