Irish men over the age of 50 are just as likely to be as overweight or obese as their American counterparts, a new study has found.
According to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing led by Trinity College Dublin, 79% of men and women aged over 50 here are either overweight (43%) or obese (36%).
The national study of more than 8,000 people also showed that women from poorer backgrounds in that age group are most at risk of being overweight, with 39% of those in the lowest wealth bracket now classed as obese, compared to a quarter in the highest bracket.
Lead author of that report, Dr Siobhan Leahy, says there is a link between obesity in the over-50 group and specific health problems.
"What we've done in this report is directly link the prevalence of obesity to health problems," she said.
"So we see, for example, that cardiovascular disease is more common in this group, so for example obese men in this age group have already had an event such as a heart attack or a stroke, so 20% of that group, compared to 14% of those with a normal body mass or waist circumference."