Over a quarter of adults in Northern Ireland obese, health survey finds

More than a quarter of adults in Northern Ireland are now classified as obese, according to a Department of Health survey.

Among the survey results, 27% of adults were classified as obese and an additional 38% were overweight.

This represented an increase in the obesity rate from the 2010/11 result of 23%. While obesity levels were similar, men were more likely than women to be overweight.

About three-quarters of children aged 2 to 15 were classified as normal weight (69%) or underweight (5%), while 20% were classified as overweight and 6% as obese.

Since 2010/11, the proportion of children classified as overweight or obese has remained at relatively similar levels.

The department released its annual health survey on Thursday covering the period April 2019 to March 2020. The sample size was 4,085 people aged 16 and over.

Other findings included that nearly three-quarters of those surveyed (71%) described their health as good or very good, with self-rated general health remaining at a relatively similar level over the past ten years.

Less than a third (30%) of people reported having a long-standing physical or mental health problem that reduced their ability to carry out daily activities, with 28% of men and 33% of women reporting problems.

Less than a fifth of adults (17%) are currently cigarette smokers. This is a similar result from 2018/19, but the prevalence of smoking fell by 24% in 2010/11.

People living in the most deprived areas (27%) were more likely to smoke cigarettes than those living in the least deprived areas (10%).

A small proportion of people (6%) said they currently use e-cigarettes, a similar result to the previous year (7%).

About three-quarters of adults aged 18 and over drink alcohol, of which 80% are men and 73% are women.

Less than a fifth (17%) drink above the recommended weekly limits, with men (26%) about three times more likely to do so than women (9%). One-fifth of male drinkers (19%) drank at least three days a week, compared to 10% of female drinkers.

Less than half of people (44%) reported consuming the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, an increase from the 2010/11 result of 32%. Women continue to be more likely to meet the 5-a-day recommendations (50%) than men (38%).

About a fifth of those surveyed (19%) scored well on the GHQ12 (general health questionnaire), suggesting that they might have a possible mental health problem; this is a similar result to that recorded in 2010/11 (20%).

Respondents from the most disadvantaged areas (27%) continue to be more likely to have a high GHQ12 score than those from the least disadvantaged areas (17%).

One-fifth of people (21%) showed signs of loneliness scoring high on the UCLA Loneliness Scale.

Respondents living in urban areas and those in the most disadvantaged areas were more likely to show signs of loneliness than those in rural and least disadvantaged areas respectively.

Belfast Telegraph

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