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Almost two thirds of adults in Northern Ireland overweight

The Health Survey (NI) 2016/17 finds that 63% of adults are overweight or obese

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Almost two thirds of adults in Northern Ireland are obese or overweight, the latest health survey shows.

The annual Health Survey (NI), which has run since 2010/11, questioned 3,888 individuals aged 16 and for the 2016/17 survey about a variety of health issues.

It found that over a quarter of adults (27%) were classed as obese with a further 36% classed as overweight. Obesity levels have shown an upward trend over the last decade, from the 24% recorded in 2005/06.

Around three quarters of children aged 2-15 were classed as either normal weight or underweight, while 17% were classed as overweight and 8% were classed as obese. Over the last decade, the proportion of children classed as overweight or obese has remained at similar levels.

The prevalence of cigarette smoking has fallen to 20% this year, down from the 22% reported in 2015/16. This is the first drop in prevalence since 2013/14, although there has been a general downward trend seen since the 1980s when a third of respondents smoked. Smoking prevalence in the most deprived areas (32%) continues to be around three times that in the least deprived areas (11%).

A small proportion of respondents (6%) reported that they currently use electronic cigarettes, the same proportion as in 2015/16. Over a third of these respondents (37%) are current cigarette smokers while (59%) used to smoke on a regular basis.

Nearly three quarters of respondents (73%) described their health as being good or very good, an increase from the 70% reported the previous year.

Over half of respondents (55%) reported meeting the chief medical officer’s recommendations on physical activity.

There was an increase in the proportion of respondents that reported eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, from 37% in 2015/16 to 43% in 2016/17. Women were more likely to meet the 5-a-day guidelines (47%) than men (37%) however they remain less likely to meet the physical activity recommendations (females 51% and males 61%).

Four fifths of respondents (80%) aged 18 and over reported that they drink alcohol, an increase on the 2015/16 finding of 74%.

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