17 Jan 2012. New research announced by safefood today revealed that despite 2 out of 3 adults on the island of Ireland being overweight (1), only 40% of adults now classify themselves as such (2). This indicates that thousands of men and women are still failing to recognise that they themselves are overweight, and are putting their health at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. The research was conducted as part of safefood’s ongoing ‘Stop the Spread’ campaign to tackle overweight and obesity.
Other findings of the research identified that concerns about diabetes have doubled in the last year (2) and there has been a marked improvement in adults’ understanding of where to accurately measure their waist* with 35% of respondents correctly saying it is around the bellybutton area, an increase of 6% since last June (2). The number of people who had measured their waist in the six weeks before the survey was conducted has also increased, with 20% of people claiming to have done so (2).
Commenting on the findings of the research, Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood said
While it’s encouraging to see that consumers are beginning to better understand the problem of overweight and obesity and the associated health problems, as a population we’re not identifying the issue of overweight as applying to us as individuals. The next step is to move from increasing awareness among consumers to actually changing their behaviour and this now seems to be beginning to happen.”
Iain Foster, National Director of Diabetes UK Northern Ireland welcomed the campaign as having an impact on the ground:
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition which has increased rapidly due largely to our growing waistlines. We welcome the safefood campaign which, as well as raising awareness, also provides people with the knowledge they need to properly measure their waist and realize how likely they are to be classed as ‘overweight’. Studies have shown that 60 per cent of those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes, if given lifestyle intervention, will not go on to develop the condition. Type 2 diabetes is linked to heart disease, stroke, amputation, blindness and kidney failure so any campaign which prompts action and can prevent people being diagnosed must be fully supported.”
Dr. Anna Clarke, Health Promotion and Research Manager with the Diabetes Federation of Ireland added
Type 2 diabetes is somewhat of a ‘silent killer’ as if left untreated, it can cause serious health problems yet thousands of Irish men and women are unaware that they have the condition and therefore haven’t been diagnosed and aren’t seeking treatment for it. Being overweight increases a person’s risk of developing serious health conditions like Type 2 diabetes. However, sensible lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and doing more exercise can have a huge impact on lowering this risk, so we are delighted to support safefood’s ‘Stop the Spread’ as we believe it has had a real impact on improving people’s understanding of the importance of being a healthy weight.”
The research also revealed that only one in four of the population (23%) has told their partner that they needed to lose weight, with women more likely to do this than men (2). Similarly, 27% of respondents claim to have told a friend they needed to lose weight, although this was more likely to be done by someone who is overweight themselves or by men (2). “We also need to be realistic and not embarrassed about acknowledging and dealing with weight problems”, added Dr. Foley-Nolan, “and not seeing it as a weakness in our character or an insult in any way.”
The ‘Stop the Spread’ campaign is aimed at alerting people to the fact that being overweight is now the ‘norm’, and tackling the common excuses for excess weight around the middle such as middle-age spread, height or genetics. The campaign urges people to measure their waist to see if they are overweight. Having a waist size greater than 32 inches for a woman or 37 inches for a man is a clear indication that a person is carrying excess weight. Building on the success of the campaign to date, 1,700 pharmacies across the island of Ireland and 1,300 GPs in the Republic of Ireland will support the initiative by making free measuring tapes available to the public.
safefood, sponsors of the popular RTE show ‘Operation Transformation’, has developed myot.ie, a mini-web application for viewers of the show where users can track their progress against their leader and access key information while on the move. Since this series began on 4th January, over 47,000 people have registered on the ‘app’, another indication that men and women are now taking action to lose weight. Through its sponsorship of ‘Operation Transformation’, safefood is also answering viewer’s weight loss questions through a live link to its Facebook page via the programme’s website www.rte.ie/ot.
The ‘Stop the Spread’ campaign which was launched in May 2011 is a two-year, all island campaign by safefood and comprises television, radio and outdoor advertising, as well as online support at www.safefood.eu. Useful tips and information on weight loss can be found on the ‘Stop the Spread’ pages on the safefood website and Facebook page.
Further information on ‘Stop the Spread’ is available at www.safefood.eu or by calling safefood on 1850 40 45 67/0800 085 1683.
For further information please contact:
Ciara Kennedy / Orla Dormer
Telephone: 01 669 0030 / Mobile: 087 220 2850 (Ciara) / 085 708 6877 (Orla)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Telephone: 01 448 0622 / Mobile: 086 381 1034
1. IUNA (Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance) National Adult Nutrition Survey; summary report March 2011
2. ‘Safetrak’ survey of 810 adults on the island of Ireland (safefood / Millward Brown Lansdowne, December 2011)
* To measure your waist correctly, feel the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hipbones; your waist lies between these 2 points, normally where your bellybutton is. When measuring your waist, it’s important to remember it’s not where your trousers sit (or the waist size of clothes you buy).
• According to the IUNA National Adult Nutrition Survey 2011, among 18-64 year olds:
o 39% of the ROI population were in the healthy weight range. However, a total of 24% were obese (26% men/21 % women) and 37% were overweight (44% men/31% women)
o The prevalence of obesity in 18-64 year old adults has increased significantly since 1990 from 8% to 26% in men, and from 13% to 21% in women.
o 54% of men and 64% of women had a waist circumference greater than 37 inches and 32 inches respectively
o In the past 20 years men have gained an average of 8kg (nearly 18lbs) and women have gained an average of 5kg (over 11lbs)
• In Northern Ireland, 36% of adults aged 16+ were overweight and 23% obese. A similar proportion of males and females were obese (23%), however, males were more likely to be overweight (44%) than females (30%). Obesity was more prominent amongst the middle and older age-groups than the younger age-groups. A quarter of those aged 35-44 were classified as obese and around 30% of those in the 45-54, 55-64 and 65-74 age-groups were obese compared with 12% of 16-24 year olds and 16% of 25-34 year olds. (Health & Social Wellbeing Survey 2010/11 (NISRA, 2011))
• According to safefood’s ‘Safetrak’ survey of 810 adults on the island of Ireland (safefood / Millward Brown Lansdowne, December 2011)
o Of those respondents who had seen safefood’s ‘Stop the Spread’ TV ad, 92% agree that ‘more and more people are becoming overweight on the island of Ireland’
o Of those respondents who had heard safefood’s ‘Stop the Spread’ radio ad, 94% agree that ‘more and more people are becoming overweight on the island of Ireland’
• According to safefood’s Omnibus survey of 1,948 adults on the island of Ireland in April 2011;
o 96% of adults agree being overweight impacts a person’s health
o 81% of men claimed to have a waist size of less than 37 inches
o 67% agree that being overweight has a negative impact on the weight of family and partners
o 13% were aware of cancer as a health condition associated with excess weight (Heart disease 82%/High blood pressure 54%/Type 2 diabetes 52%)
• The Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition (SLÁN 2007) of adults aged 18+ in the Republic of Ireland found that 60% of respondents had an average waist circumference in the “at risk” zone for obesity (>37 inches for men and > 32 inches for women)
• The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that over 700 million people will be obese by 2015. For more information, visit, (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/index.html )