Four out of every five people over the age of 45 are risking an early heart attack or stroke-induced death, due to their cholesterol-rich diets.
The Irish Heart Foundation has made the claim as part of its “Fats of Life” campaign to encourage adults with high cholesterol to cut back before it is too late.
The foundation warned that two thirds of all adults are eating more fat than their body needs. The caution comes despite the fact that most people can correctly identify foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
As a result of the long-term damage the situation can cause, the foundation concluded that four in five people over the age of 45 are at risk.
Up to 100,000 new heart disease and stroke cases are recorded every year in Ireland, 10,000 of which result in death.
Speaking at the launch of the Irish Heart Foundation’s campaign to address the issue, the foundation’s dietician, Janis Morrissey, said the failure to take on board the health concerns associated with poor eating means that thousands of people are risking an early grave.
“Irish adults have too much total fat in their diet and they are not getting enough good fats,” said Ms Morrissey.
“With four out of five adults over 45 affected by high cholesterol and two thirds of these untreated, it is time to ask, are you one of them?
“A risk of stroke or heart attack is too serious to ignore.”
The charity’s health campaign launch was supported by former Miss World Rosanna Davison and Fair City actor Bryan Murray, the latter of whom is a health month ambassador for the group.
Speaking about his own battle with a bad diet, Mr Murray said that he consistently failed to take on board the seriousness of what he was doing to his health until he was told his cholesterol level was 6.9 — far higher than the recommended rate of 5.0.
“I think sometimes there’s a sort of an attitude of ‘ah sure, I’ll ignore that and it will go away’. The problem is, it won’t go away,” said Mr Murray.
“Men really need to take more responsibility and control of their own health. After all, your heart is core to life and if your heart goes west that’s the end of it.”
The call for improved diet awareness came after a new study from the Health Research Board warned earlier this month that Ireland’s addiction to trans fats, saturated fats, and salt means as many as 1,070 people are passing away needlessly due to strokes or heart attacks every year.
The group’s centre of diet and health said even reducing the fat and salt intake by a “modest” amount “could save 395 lives every year”.
Health Minister James Reilly has put tackling Ireland’s poor diet among the top of his reform agenda, with the senior cabinet member in recent months pushing for a calorie-count figure to be included on all restaurant menus.
This approach is being used to try and force people to take on board the reality of what they are eating.
lFurther information is available at irishheart.ie/fatsoflife or freephone number 1850 364 364.
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