The State Of Irish Health
The State Of Irish Health
You're going to need to take a seat for this one. The results of the Healthy Ireland Survey are astonishing, yet for those of us who study Irish Health as a profession, it's not at all surprising! The survey was conducted between November 2014 through August 2015 and interviewed 7,539 individuals aged 15 and over. The results are very stats heavy so I'll break it down for you.
37% of people in Ireland have a normal, healthy weight. Between being overweight and obese, at a whopping 60%, more than half of us are outside of that healthy range! It's more common today to be unhealthy. The next time you walk through Dundalk, take a look around you and notice for a moment, does what you see reflect this statistic? I've done it. It does! While men are more likely to be overweight than women, it is women who are more likely to try to lose weight, but by which method? Let's continue!
A slim 32% of the Irish population are considered to be highly active which isn't at all surprising when we look at the obesity epidemic. When people stop moving, they stop burning calories and start storing fat. The average person in Ireland is sitting for 5.3 hours each week day! Women under 24 are sitting for 6.7 hours a day which is easily explained with college classes, office jobs and often, a long commute to work but let's not forget there are 24 hours in a day and only 8 of those are spent sleeping! Is it any wonder that SITTING is considered the new SMOKING?
Oh and less than a quarter of those who are overweight or obese are also highly active...
What other contributing factors are there?
Diet & Nutrition
Nutrition is one way we can truly begin to tackle this health epidemic. I believe correct nutritional education could transform this country in a heart beat (beginning with an updated Food Pyramid lesson for every person capable of putting food to their own mouth, but apparently Simon Harris has other priorities!)
22% of the Irish Population do not eat vegetables or fruit every day! As a young Irish Professional myself, observing the offerings of the local petrol station is an eyesore at best. While there seems to be an uptake of Protein Bars and Drinks, the price point of these and other healthy foods still stands at an extortionately higher rate than picking up a mars bar and a bag of Tayto. A snack pot of fruit at a petrol station can go for €4.50 with rarely the option of pre prepped veggies either!
Is it surprising that 65% report consuming sugary snacks and drinks daily?
Okay so I'll admit this one pleasantly surprised me. Over 15's are doing okay in Ireland it seems. Higher Positive Mental Health is more common in men than in women between he ages of 15 - 24 and then women over 24 tend to be overall more mentally well than men for the duration.
“Being more physically active” (38%) and
"Being more financially secure” (33%) are the changes most frequently selected towards improving health and wellbeing.
We see a recurring theme at Fighting Fit in Dundalk. Members come to us after their doctor recommends nutrition and exercise as some kind of magic pill for depression and / or anxiety. The symptoms reduce or disappear and we welcome a transformed person through our doors each day.
Alcohol can be a killer to any attempt to gain control of your nutritional intake. Lots of alcoholic beverages are just empty calories. It makes sense that 76% of the Irish population drink alcohol, with 53% of drinkers doing so at least weekly and 60% also being overweight or obese. Let's not forget the hangover food that ensue in a bid to ease a dreadful hangover. There's definitely no veggies to be seen in those meals!
Dementia is much more prevalent than it get's air time for. Over 50% of the population know someone who has dementia and a quarter of us report our partner or family member has dementia. It is thought that the increased blood flow to the brain from regular, frequent exercise can help in reducing the risk of developing dementia.
What Can I Do?
There is no fast fix or magic wand. You can start by no longer being a statistic. Get up and move. Walk to the shop or to school. Park your car in the centre of town and walk around to get your groceries and run errands. Get mindful about your food, bring lunch to work instead of buying it. It takes just 3 minutes to boil an egg for breakfast rather can beginning your day with a sugary cereal. Join the Dundalk Park Run.
If you are someone who needs to take control of your lifestyle, we would love to support you along the way.