Key Facts


Physical Activity

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 Healthy Ireland Survey 2015 key findings: (See related files at the end of this page for the full document)

  • Just over three in ten (32%) of the population are considered to be sufficiently active to meet the national guidelines
  • Four in ten men (40%) are sufficiently active to meet the national guidelines compared to just one in four women (24%)
  • Just under one in four (23%) of those who are obese are sufficiently active to meet the national guidelines, compared to almost four in 10 of those with a normal weight or overweight (36%)
  • Irish people spend on average 5.3 hours sitting each weekday
  • Women aged 15-24 spend longer sitting (6.7 hours) than any other group, whilst those engaged in home duties (4.4 hours) spend the least amount of time

The Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study (2010), reported that only 19% of primary and 12% of post-primary school children met the national physical activity guidelines (Woods et al, 2010).

 Healthy Ireland Survey 2016 key findings: (See related files at the end of this page for the full document)

  • Two in three people (66%) know that adults should be active for at least five days a week.
  • Most people (81%) know how long some should be active for on these days (that is at least 30 minutes).
  • Significantly more people believe they are sufficiently active compared to the proportion who are sufficiently active to meet the national physical activity guidelines.
  • Almost two in three (63%) of people would like to be more active than they currently are, and the majority (91%) of those who feel they don’t do enough activity would like to do more

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Diet and Nutrition

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Healthy Ireland Survey 2015 key findings: (See related files at the end of this page for the full document)

  • Just over one in four (26%) report that they eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
  • Just over one in five (22%) report that they do not eat fruit or vegetables every day.
  • Almost two-thirds (65%) report that they consume snack foods or sugar-sweetened drinks daily.
  • Just over six out of ten (62%) eat snack foods daily, consuming an average of 2 portions per day.
  • 15% drink sugar-sweetened drinks daily, with men aged 15-24 most likely to drink these (29%).
  • Over seven in ten (73%) eat breakfast every day, with those living in more deprived areas less likely to do so.
  • Younger people are less likely to eat breakfast – four in ten (40%) of 15-24 year olds do not eat breakfast every day.

 Healthy Ireland Survey 2016 key findings: (See related files at the end of this page for the full document)

  • Just over one in ten (11%) of those who are unemployed mainly eat ready meals compared with 2% of those in employment.
  • 16% of those in the three most deprived groups drink sugar-sweetened drinks daily compared with 12% of those in the most affluent groups.
  • Twice as many (30%) of those in employment eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables compared with those who are unemployed (14%).
  • Three in four (75%) employed people eat breakfast every day, compared with just over two in four (58%) of those who are unemployed.
  • Just under one in five (18%) women aged 25-34 take take a folic acid supplement and one in twenty (5%) of those aged 15-24 do so.

Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Ireland key findings: (See related files at the end of this page for the full document)

  • One in every four eat fruit (24%) and vegetables (23%) daily.
  • Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks is still high, with 26% and 12% having sweets and soft drinks daily or more.
  • There was no change in the proportion of children who reported never eating breakfast on week days (13%).
  • One in every five children (21%) reported going to school or to bed hungry; this has remained stable since 2010

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Overweight and Obesity in Ireland

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Healthy Ireland Survey key findings: (See related files at the end of this page for the full document)

  • Just under four in ten (37%) of people have a normal weight, six out of ten (37% overweight and a further 23% obese) overweight or obese.
  • Whilst men are more likely to be overweight than women (men: 43%, women: 31%), the proportions that are obese are more closely aligned (men: 25%, women: 22%)
  • A smaller difference exists between men and women aged under 25 than those older than this.
  • 31% of men aged 15-24 are overweight or obese, compared to 27% of women of this age
  • Women who are overweight or obese are more likely to be trying to lose weight than men who are overweight or obese
  • Those attempting to lose weight are most likely to be trying to do so by taking more exercise or eating fewer calories

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Health Inequalities

Health and wellbeing are not evenly distributed across Irish society. Health inequalities exist when a subgroup of the population suffers a disproportionate burden of ill health and premature death compared to the community as a whole. Many of the risk factors for chronic disease, such as smoking and obesity, are more common in lower socio-economic groups or among people living in more deprived areas.

These health inequalities are caused by social and other determinants of health, including education and access to employment. Other inequalities exist across the rural/urban divide, and between people of different genders, ethnic groups, ages and abilities.

  • Almost one in ten (9%) of 3 year olds in lower socio-economic groups are obese compared with one in twenty (5%) in higher socio-economic groups.
  • Almost four in ten (37%) of 13 year olds in the lowest socio-economic groups never participated in organised sports compared with less than two in ten (17%) in the highest socio-economic groups.
  • Body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and blood pressure levels are persistently higher among lower socio-economic groups.
  • Poorer individuals and those with lower levels of education have the highest levels of obesity

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