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Taoiseach launches Healthy Ireland campaign saying 'health is not a black hole'

A survey revealed 92% of Irish people wanted to make changes to improve their health

Leo Varadkar and Minister Simon Harris at Healthy Ireland launch
Leo Varadkar and Minister Simon Harris at Healthy Ireland launch
Image: Eamonn Farrell

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR launched the Healthy Ireland 2019 campaign today calling on members of the public to be more aware of their own health and wellbeing. 

The Healthy Ireland awareness campaign is a government-led initiative aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of Irish citizens and a survey carried out as part of this revealed 92% of people wanted to make changes to improve their health. 

Analysis from the Healthy Ireland unit at the Department of Health shows that 60% of Irish adults are overweight or obese, with only one in three adults meeting physical activity guidelines or eating enough fruit or vegetables. 

Varadkar said the campaign was about letting people know “where they can start in their own community” and added, “I know that it can be hard to motivate ourselves and others”. 

“It’s not something we should be embarrassed about, we all need to take part in these things and in many ways Healthy Ireland is all about creating the kind of environment, the culture, where it is easier for people to make healthy choices. 

“This year we really want to increase public awareness of Healthy Ireland as a trusted source for everything that we need to help us eat more healthily, to be more active physically and to look out for our own wellbeing. 

“There is so much information out there and some of it is wholly inaccurate, that it’s important that we have a trusted source that’s fact based and isn’t there to sell you a product, but is there to look out for the interests of your health.”

The Taoiseach also said health in Ireland was “not a black hole” and that too much emphasis was placed on the negative aspects instead of the positive aspects of the system.

“Sadly, as we all know our health service only ever seems to make the news for the wrong reasons. Whether it is hospital overcrowding or waiting lists, patients waiting far too long to see the specialist they need to see or the operation that they need to have. 

“And these of course are all very real problems and ones, of course, we should never play down in any way. 

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“But I do think on occasions such as this we should make some space to tell people what’s good about our public health service and there is actually quite a lot. 

“We’re living longer and healthier lives than ever before [and] today more people survive cancer than die from it,” he added. 

Healthy Ireland recommends a number of measures to incorporate healthy eating, physical activity and mental wellbeing into daily life. 

It recommends the following food tips to live a healthier life:

  • Eat more vegetables, salad and fruit – up to seven servings a day
  • Limit intake of high fat, sugar and salt in food and drinks
  • Size matters: use the Food Pyramid as a guide for serving sizes
  • Increase your physical activity levels
  • Small changes can make a big difference.

And for to improve physical wellbeing, it recommends:

  • Children and young people (2-18): all children and young people should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day
  • Adults (18-64): at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on five days a week or 150 minutes a week
  • Older people (over 65): at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week, or 150 minutes a week. Focus on aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening and balance
  • Children and adults with a disability should aim to be as active as their disability allows, and aim to meet the guideline for their age group if possible

Anyone who is interested in finding out more about Healthy Ireland can check it out here.

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