Irish adults in denial over their health

Published by: Aoife Marron

2014.12.24

A new study from RED C Research has found that despite alarmingly high levels of obesity in Ireland*, eight out of ten Irish adults (81%) consider themselves to be healthy.

The research highlights that almost four in five people (78%) in Ireland believe that they have a healthy diet despite four in ten (43%) categorising themselves as overweight. This flies in the face of the latest World Health Organisation (WHO)* statistics which show that 57% of the Irish population is, in fact, overweight.

This level of denial clearly indicates that not enough of the population are about to take action against the obesity epidemic. Only 9% of all adults in Ireland believe they need to radically change their eating habits, despite the fact that the WHO classifies 25% of the Irish population as being obese.

Those aged 18-24 are least likely to think that they are overweight with just 21% believing they are such; in contrast 52% of those over 55 believe that they are overweight, the highest of any age bracket. Despite obesity being more prevalent among those aged 55 or older, it is these age groups that are least likely to feel that their diet is unhealthy.

An interesting correlation between education and weight is also identified in the research. Those who have only basic education are almost twice as likely (66% compared to 36%) to believe that they are overweight than those who have completed a higher level of education.

A view around Europe
The study is part of wider pan-European survey conducted by WIN/Gallup International. Across Europe it is evident that, in general, people believe themselves to be in good health (82%) although the extent to which they recognise a potentially unhealthy lifestyle does vary greatly. Denmark sees itself as the healthiest country surveyed with 92% believing themselves to be generally healthy, in contrast, the Germans believe themselves to be the least healthy with over a third (34%) saying that they are unhealthy.

When looking specifically at diet, once again it was Germany that had the highest proportion of people saying that their diet is unhealthy at 44%, while in comparison 97% of people in Finland believe that they have a healthy diet despite the fact that WHO figures show that almost half of Fins (49%) are overweight.

Meanwhile the Italians feel that they require the least change to their current diet with two thirds saying that no change to their eating habits is necessary compared to a European average of 41%. Conversely it’s their Mediterranean counterparts in Greece who feel like they should change their diets the most with 76% saying they should alter their diet. Obesity Press Release

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