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One in four Irish men now obese
[Posted: Fri 01/04/2011 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
One in four men in Ireland is now obese compared to less than one in 10 in 1990, startling new research has revealed.
According to the latest study from the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA), over the last 20 years, obesity rates in Ireland have risen significantly. Almost 26% of men are now obese, compared to just 8% in 1990, while 21% of women are now obese compared to 13% in 1990.
The study documented the diet and lifestyle behaviour of a nationally representative sample of 1,500 Irish adults. Key findings included:
-Four out of five adults are not getting the recommended daily intake of dietary fibre
- Over 60% of adults exceed the recommended fat intake
- Daily salt intake is higher than the level recommended by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland
- There is a low intake of fruit and vegetables with average intakes well below international recommendations
- Many adults, particularly women, have inadequate intakes of minerals such as iron and calcium and vitamins such as vitamin D and the B vitamin folate
- More than one-quarter of adults consume alcohol in excess of the maximum recommended intake.
According to Prof Albert Flynn of University College Cork (UCC), the scientific data provided by this study will be widely used to develop nutrition policy for Ireland and assist in the development of programmes to tackle obesity.
"We need clear guidelines for healthy eating - guidelines that focus on appropriate portion sizes, lower consumption of fat, salt and alcohol, and higher intake of vegetables, fruit, fibre and key vitamins and minerals," he said.
Meanwhile, according to Dr Anne Nugent of the UCD Institute of Food and Health, this issue must be tackled.
"Obesity is strongly related to diabetes and is also linked with an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease, bone joint disorders and certain cancers. The continuing rise in overweight and obesity highlights the need to identify ways to help adults to adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits," she said.
Commenting on the findings, Michael O'Shea, chief executive of the Irish Heart Foundation, described them as ‘frightening', but ‘unsurprising'.
"The latest findings by IUNA bear frightening prospects for the health of our nation and the potential for a rise in the number of heart attacks and strokes in our population. But they are also unsurprising given the lack of Government leadership on the issue of obesity.
He pointed out that in 2005, the report of the Obesity Task Force was launched, ‘but little progress has happened since then'.
"Six years on we are still waiting on the provision of clear leadership by the government including publication of a National Nutrition Policy. While our leaders procrastinate, about 12,000 people have lost their lives to obesity-related illness during that time, costing the State up to €4 billion per year.
"Ireland is in the throes of an obesity epidemic and we need action now. These figures prove that the longer we ignore the problem, the worse the health of the nation is going to get. As the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke, we call on the government to provide leadership and direction to the people of Ireland with a national nutrition policy as a matter of urgency," Mr O'Shea said.
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