Friday 23 March 2018

We have got even bigger since 2015 - here's how fat the nation is now

Some 70pc of men are overweight or obese in Ireland compared with 53pc of women. Stock picture
Some 70pc of men are overweight or obese in Ireland compared with 53pc of women. Stock picture
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The nation has got fatter in the past two years - and we are making no progress in reducing our obesity rates.

The stark truth is that 39pc of people in Ireland are now overweight - a jump of 2pc since 2015, the annual Healthy Ireland survey reveals.

Another one in four of us over the age of 15 is obese.

The only consolation is that the obesity health time-bomb has not got worse.

Some 70pc of men are overweight or obese compared with 53pc of women.

Only 24pc of the over-65s are a normal weight.

The survey from the Department of Health, which has been tracking our lifestyle habits annually for three years, also shows fewer people now describe their health as good or very good - down 1pc to 84pc. In an ominous trend, some 30pc have a long-standing illness or health condition, a rise of 2pc in two years.

It shows how many people remain locked in poor lifestyle habits with no fall in the 39pc of drinkers who binge.

Those who are overweight and obese are more likely to binge drink than people of a normal weight.

The majority of us are also not getting 'our five a day'. Nearly three-quarters of people eat fewer than five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

One in three has at least one unhealthy treat a day such as biscuits, pastries or fried food. One in six has a sugar sweetened drink daily.

The report warns that a high proportion of young people drink alcohol "at high risk levels" and this is a "significant concern".

The findings show young women are matching their male friends when it comes to drinking.

The percentage of the population who smoke has fallen by 1pc since last year, but 22pc of people still light up.

"Recruitment of young smokers is a further concern. One in five young people smoke, and among those aged 20 to 24, the same proportion smoke on a daily basis," states the survey.

Almost half of all young people who are unemployed are smokers and the use of hand-rolled cigarettes, which are cheap compared with cigarettes, is a particular worry.

Only 8pc have adopted a more active way of travel in the past two years and the reliance on the car as a mode of transport is undermining efforts to get us to be more active.

Travelling by car is the default choice for many, with six out of every 10 people travelling to work, school or college using this as their main form of travel.

Those living in Dublin are more likely to have made a change in their mode of travel in the past two years compared with people in other parts of the country, with 8pc of people cycling in the capital.

With winter approaching, 68pc of those who responded to the Ipsos MRBI poll correctly said antibiotics could kill bacteria. However, 49pc wrongly believe they can target viruses.

Launching the survey, Health Promotion Minister Catherine Byrne said: "There is no room for complacency."

Irish Independent

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