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Ireland: Lack of exercise and poor diets lead to weight problems and health issues for half the population

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According to research carried out by Hibernian Aviva Health, 48% of people in Ireland are overweight or dangerously overweight and almost a quarter of all adults do no physical exercise according to new statistics published by health insurer Hibernian Aviva Health.[1]

According to the research findings, there is a clear gender bias to these results with 61% of males versus 39% of females reportedly being overweight1. County Tipperary was found to be the most overweight county with approximately 58% of respondents reporting to be overweight while County Kerry reported the lowest figures with 41% being overweight.

The research also highlighted that on average 24% of the adult population do no exercise at all1. In addition to having obvious weight management benefits the impact of exercise is far broader ranging. It has been established that physical inactivity is a major contributing factor to heart disease and increases the risk of colon cancer further demonstrating the importance of regular exercise[2]. Heart disease is the number one killer in Ireland with approximately 10,000 people dying each year from cardiovascular disease, accounting for 36% of all deaths.2

If you are overweight, it is the location of where your body stores the extra weight that can affect your risk of suffering from heart disease. A healthy waist measurement for a woman is less than 80cms / 32inches and for a man is less than 94cms / 37 inches. If your waist circumference is larger than this, you should consider a weight loss programme immediately.2

Commenting on the results of the online health check, Dr Stephen Murphy, GP and member of the Hibernian Aviva Health Medical Council, said: “With almost half of the Irish adult population being overweight, these figures are extremely worrying. While maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and exercise is important for general health, it is in heart health where some of the biggest health gains can be realised. Regular exercise in conjunction with a healthy diet from a young age will have a huge benefit to your health in later years and it is never too late to start a healthier approach to life. I would urge you to complete the online health check available at www.hibernianavivahealth.ie or if you are concerned about your weight or heart health contact your GP.”

Hibernian Aviva Health is looking out for the health of its customers by offering the following advice:

  • Take at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on five days a week.[3]
  • Examples of moderate intensity exercise includes brisk walking, water aerobics, ballroom dancing, general gardening, brisk vacuum cleaning, tennis and cycling slower than 10 miles per hour.3
  • Follow the food pyramid to eat a balanced healthy diet. This includes six servings of breads and cereals, five portions of fruit and vegetables, three servings of dairy products and two servings of meat, fish, poultry, eggs or pulses.[4]
  • Use 1oz of low fat spread each day. Use oils sparingly.4
  • Avoid high fat snacks or limit them to small amounts on an infrequent basis.4
  • Alcohol should be used in moderation and preferably during meal times. Have some alcohol free days.4

The health insurance division of Ireland’s largest multi-line insurance company, Hibernian Aviva, recently launched new health insurance plans looking out for consumers needs with better benefits compared to any other insurer for core health requirements such as heart and cancer care. In addition, Hibernian Aviva Health offers policyholders access to more hospitals, scan and treatment centres.

[1] Hibernian Aviva Health online health checkresearch results.

[2] http://www.irishheart.ie/iopen24/physical-activity-t-73.html

[3] Get Ireland Active.  Fact sheet for Adults, click here

[4] Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute.