Most Irish adults not exercising enough

Some 60% are overweight or obese
  • Deborah Condon

Just one-third of Irish people get enough exercise and only one-quarter eat enough fruit and vegetables, a major new survey has found.

According to the first national survey on the nation's health since the SLÁN survey in 2007, while overweight and obesity figures appear to have stabilised in recent years, 60% of Irish adults are still overweight or obese.

Just 32% of people fulfill physical activity recommendations, and while most people consume fruit and vegetables, just 26% consume the recommended five portions per day.

There is good news when it comes to smoking. The proportion of adults smoking has fallen since the 2007 survey and today, just 19% of adults smoke. There are now more ex-smokers than current smokers and among current smokers, over 60% are considering or planning to quit the habit.

Other key findings in the survey include:
-39% of people binge drink when they consume alcohol
-Just 15% of people who drink at harmful levels recognise that alcohol can harm their health
-Men recorded higher levels of positive mental health than women
-9% of people appear to have mental health problems
-50% of people know someone with dementia.
-85% say they are in good health, but 28% have a long-standing condition.

"There have been some positive changes since the SLAN survey in 2007 including a further drop in smoking rates, and the incidence of overweight has actually levelled off, while levels of regular exercise are rising. However, we still face some serious risks to the future health of the nation including alcohol misuse or harmful drinking patterns, and the significant number of people who still do not take enough exercise or who are overweight," commented Health Minister, Leo Varadkar.

Also speaking about the findings, Dr Tony Holohan, the Department of Health's chief medical officer, pointed out that while it is right to focus on improving the quality of health services for those with chronic conditions, ‘we need to have a greater emphasis on prevention, as the majority of chronic diseases are preventable'.

The Healthy Ireland Survey was commissioned by the Department of Health and involved over 7,500 people aged 15 and older, who were surveyed between November 2014 and August 2015. It will be repeated every year.


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