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New study says three-quarters of older Irish adults are overweight

Poorer and less-educated over-50s have the highest levels of obesity, according to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

Image: hapal via Flickr

THREE-QUARTERS OF IRISH adults over the age of 50 are objectively overweight or obese, according to a new study released this morning.

The first results of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), which will survey the health and wealth of over-50s for the next decade, showed that those with lesser education are more likely to suffer from weight problems.

The study also found that depression is relatively common among Ireland’s older population, with one in ten older adults reporting “clinically significant” symptoms of depression and another 18 per cent recording ‘sub-threshold’ symptoms.

This depression tends to be associated with disability: nearly two-thirds of the older adults with depression had a longstanding illness or disability, compared to one-third of people who did not suffer from depression.

Despite the levels of depression, older people were generally happy with their lives, with four out of five people reporting that they were in good health.

One in five older adults was found to be taking five or more different medications – a proportion that rose to almost half of those aged 75 or older. Such drug use – officially labelled ‘polypharmacy’ was more than twice as prevalent among medical card holders, the study found.

Elsewhere, the survey revealed that around a quarter of people expect to retire before the official state retirement age of 65; those with higher education expected to retire earlier.

That option would not be possible for many, however: 41 per cent of female respondents were not covered by an occupational retirement savings scheme or any other private pension scheme, compared to just 20 per cent of males.

Just over a quarter of the 8,178 people surveyed – 26 per cent – were dependent on state transfers as their sole source of income.

The respondents will be interviewed every two years until the year 2018, as part of the Trinity College study’s long-term attempt to gain a more complete picture of the lifestyle and wellbeing of older Irish adults.

Read: A summary of results from the first TILDA survey (PDF) >

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Gavan Reilly

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