Wellbeing of the Nation report finds people are healthier for longer

Our lives are healthier for longer, a new study on the state of the nation has found.

While people are getting fatter, drinking more and doing less sport, the vast majority generally consider themselves to be in good or very good condition.

The Wellbeing of the Nation report by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) found that people on average expect to live healthily or without a disability for more than 67 years.

The optimistic outlook compares with almost two-thirds of people being classed as overweight or obese, up to 62% in 2017 from 60% in 2015.

However, the CSO noted that the percentage of people who perceive their health as being good or very good was down from a high of 88% in 2011 to a low of 79% in 2012 before steady increases in more recent years.

It said that people’s general perception of good health was important as it gives an insight into issues that are hard to measure clinically, such as fatigue.

The CSO report also found the amount of people aged 15 and over who still take part in sport fell by about 2% to 45% in 2015.

Some 39% of people aged 15 or older are said to binge-drink - taking three or more pints in one sitting or six or more measures of spirits.

The report pulls on some previously-released data from the census and also some new information to highlight life in Ireland in eight areas including the economy, housing and education levels.

The average work commute has gone up from 26.6 minutes in 2011 to 28.2 minutes in 2016, which the CSO said was "a fall for societal well-being".

It also noted that 8.4% of people regularly worked more than 48 hours a week in 2016.

Average household debt fell to €87,900 in 2015 from €93,900 in the previous year while average annual earnings in 2016 were €36,919 per person and unemployment was down to 8.6%.

While participation in sport has dipped, the report found more money being spent on sport and leisure - €17.85 in 2015-2016 compared with €14.40 six years earlier.

More than a quarter of over-15s volunteered in 2013 either through organisations or directly themselves, the CSO said.

Almost half of adults believe crime is a very serious problem while 5% self-reported being victims of crime including violent and non-violent theft, physical assault and fraud. The CSO said this number has remained fairly constant over time.

The report also referenced the growing homelessness crisis and put its last recorded figure at 6,906, although more recent statistics show the numbers have soared above 8,000.

It also showed the amount of people at risk of poverty or experiencing enforced deprivation was down only slightly to 8.7% in 2015.

The figure had been as low as 6.9% in 2011.

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