52% of overweight young people are not trying to slim down

Almost a third of young people are overweight or obese, and most are not trying to slim down, a survey has found.

52% of overweight young people are not trying to slim down

More young men (32%) than young women (27%) are overweight, while more young women (9%) than young men (6%) are obese.

The third annual Healthy Ireland Survey found that 52% of young people aged 15 to 24 who are overweight or obese were not trying to lose weight.

The survey found some 39% of people are overweight, while 23% are obese and 2% are underweight.

Men (70%) are more likely to be overweight than women (53%). While 63% of those aged 15 to 24 have a healthy weight, the percentage declines to just 24% for those age 65 and older.

Those who are overweight and obese are more likely to binge drink than those with a normal weight.

Over a third (34%) who are overweight and 35% of those who are obese binge drink on a typical drinking occasion. Of those with a normal weight, 28% drink in this way.

The proportion of the population that is obese rises form 9% of 15 to 24-year-olds to 32% of those aged 65 and older.

The survey of almost 7,500 people aged 15 or older found that 22% of people are smokers — a one percentage point decrease over the previous year and 2015. It shows that 18% are daily smokers and 4% smoke occasionally.

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) said it was pleased with the reduction in the national smoking rate but said there was a long way to go to achieve the Tobacco Free Ireland 2025 target of 5% of adult smokers. The ICS’s head of services and advocacy, Donal Buggy, said public health measures taken over the last 20 years were now bearing fruit.

“In this century the smoking rate has fallen from 31% to 23%,” he said.

The survey shows that 47% of all those who have smoked in the past 12 months have attempted to quit.

Mr Buggy said making nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), available free of charge to all those enrolled in smoking cessation programmes, would help ensure smokers who want to quit get the help they need.

He pointed out that using NRT increases a person’s chances of successfully quitting by between 50% and 70%.

The survey shows that 18% of those who tried to quit smoking in the past year are current users of e-cigarettes. Less than 1% of people who never smoked use e-cigarettes.

Vape Business Ireland wants the Department of Health and the HSE to include e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking.

“Consumers have the right to be informed of all their options,” they stated.

The survey shows that 40% of smokers have previously used e-cigarettes and 7% currently use them.

Minister of state for health promotion Catherine Byrne, who launched the report, welcomed the drop in the smoking rate. But, she said, it was undeniable that some groups still had a higher risk of poor health.

The survey found that smoking rates were higher in more deprived areas than more affluent ones.

Almost a third (32%) of those living in the most deprived areas are current smokers, compared to 16% of those living in more affluent areas.

The survey, conducted between September 2016 and June 2017 for the Department of Health, also found most people (65%) travel by car.

While a quarter of those aged under 25 usually walk or cycle, this declines to 14% of those aged over 35.

The survey warns that a significant challenge is that relatively few people changed their travel patterns — only 8% had done so in the past year.

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