Irish men almost three times more likely than women to smoke

Men are three times more likely to have unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking, than women.

This is according to the second Healthy Ireland Survey, published yesterday, which looks at the nation’s wellbeing.

The four main unhealthy behaviours are smoking, binge drinking, living a sedentary lifestyle, and the under-consumption of the daily recommended level of fruit and vegetables.

Men are almost three times more likely than women to smoke and binge drink. They are also three times more likely than women to binge drink and not consume the recommended level of fruit and vegetables daily.

The biggest difference between men and women is the combination of binge drinking and under consumption of fruit and vegetables.

A total of 34% of men both binge drink and under consume the recommended five fruit and vegetables, whereas just 9% of women have this combination of unhealthy behaviours.

Furthermore, women above the age of 25, have far less unhealthy behaviours than men. However, when it comes to under 25s, males and females carry out the same level of unhealthy behaviours.

“The difference between the genders is considerable in many respects, however, a narrower gender gap exists in some cases and it’s very noticeable among the under-25 age group, where the majority of men and women have multiple unhealthy behaviours,” said Kieran O’Leary yesterday.

Mr O’Leary is the director of Ipsos MRBI, the research and polling company that did the study.

The study’s findings are based on 7,498 interviews with people aged 15 and over living in Ireland. These surveys were carried out between September 2015 and May 2016.

In general terms, the study found 23% of the population smoke daily or occasionally, 28% of us binge drink on a typical drinking occasion, 73% consume less than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and 26% spend eight or more hours sitting every day.

In relation to the prevalence of those unhealthy behaviours, 39% of the population has at least one unhealthy behaviour and 31% of us carry out two of them in our lives.

Of the smoking public, 48% of them have attempted to quit in the last year, and 11% of non-smokers are exposed to second-hand smoke daily.

Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer at the Department of Health, commented on the Healthy Ireland findings yesterday:

“Rates of tobacco consumption, alcohol usage, food consumption patterns and physical inactivity are leading causes of increases in chronic conditions,” he said.

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