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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019
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Three in every five Irish adults are overweight or obese

The number of smokers in Ireland has fallen again, with 17% of the nation smoking according to the latest Healthy Ireland survey.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Shutterstock/Tom Wang

JUST OVER ONE third of Irish people (37%) have a normal weight with 60% of adults here overweight or obese, according to the latest Department of Health’s Healthy Ireland survey.

Elsewhere in the survey, it shows the level of smoking dropping in Ireland to 17% of the population with just over half of men and less than half of women achieving the minimum level of recommended physical activity a day.

The stats are compiled based on a survey of over 7,400 people aged 15 or over who were interviewed between September 2018 and September 2019.

Using the body mass index (BMI), it classifies people overweight with scores of over 25 and obese with scores in excess of 30.

In the survey, 37% of people were found to be overweight with 23% obese. Those living in deprived areas are more likely than those in affluent areas to be overweight or obese (65% to 55%).

Minister of State for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne said these levels “remain a great cause for concern”.

“While levels appear to be stabilising, there is no room for complacency,” she said. “This year’s survey shows a small increase in the number of people meeting the guidelines on physical activity, which is encouraging.”

The latest survey has encouraging statistics on smoking, with the number of current smokers in the country down from 20% last year to 17%. In 2015/16, that figure was 23%.

The percentage of the population that smoke daily is 14%, down from 17% last year. In the last year, 40% of smokers have made an attempt to quit, with health concerns being the prime motivator. Three-quarters of people, meanwhile, support plain packaging on tobacco products.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “I welcome the findings of this year’s Healthy Ireland Survey and in particular the continued drop in the smoking rate.

“This shows that our multi-pronged approach, with legislation, support for smoking cessation and policies to denormalise smoking in our society, is bearing fruit and we are heading in the right direction to being a tobacco-free Ireland.”

Also within the survey is data on how the nation is sleeping. 

The average person gets around 7.1 hours of sleep on a typical night. Those who are overweight or obese get less sleep on average than those of a normal weight, according to the survey.

Healthy Ireland also looked at the health of people with caring responsibilities and found almost one in ten of us provides regular unpaid personal help to a family member or friend with a long-term health problem or disability. 

It also reports that 42% of these carers report that they themselves have a long-standing illness or health problem. 

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Sean Murray

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