3. Nutrition & Healthy Eating

Analysis of the National Children’s Survey

Project Reference:




Commencement Date:

March, 2006

Project Duration:

24 months


The National Children’s Food Survey was carried out by the Irish Universities Alliance at University College Dublin and University College Cork. A total of 594 children aged 5-12 years were surveyed between April 2003 and April 2004 of which 293 were boys and 301 were girls. A 7-day weighed food record was kept for each child and information was collected on body measurements (weight, height, body mass and waist circumference), health and lifestyle and habitual physical activity, using accelerometer (objective) data and reported questionnaire data. In addition, information on parental body measurements (weight, height and waist circumference) and health and lifestyle were collected. Preliminary analysis of the data collected in National Children’s Survey has also been carried out. 

The survey database was further analysed to investigate a number of key issues relating to diet and physical activity, in particular overweight and obesity, in Irish children aged 5-12 years. The project provided the Health Service Executive and safefood with an evidence base in order to guide the development of population health approaches to tackling obesity and overweight among 5-12 year olds. In addition, the research identified dietary strategies for the achievement of key nutritional goals for this age group such as total fat and fatty acids, fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates and fibre intakes. Such information provided an evidence base to support nutrition programmes and communications in these areas. The evidence focused on practical food based information.

Principal Contractor(s):

Prof Michael Gibney, University College Dublin


Prof Albert Flynn, University College Cork



Body weight and eating habits in 5-12 year old Irish children