Friday, 30 December 2011
Unislim joins Nutrition & Health Foundation in bid to tackle Ireland’s obesity epidemic
Friday, 30th December 2011
: Joint research from the Nutrition & Health Foundation (NHF) and Unislim Ireland - to mark the organisation becoming a member of the NHF - shows alarming gaps in the rate of medical diagnosis of overweight and obesity in Ireland. According to the survey of Unislim Ireland members*, despite joining the programme to lose weight almost 3 out of 4 (73%) respondents have never been diagnosed as either overweight or obese by a healthcare professional.
According to Fiona Gratzer, Managing Director of Unislim Ireland, the survey reveals valuable insights from Unislim members as to what policymakers need to do to drive a healthier Ireland while demonstrating the positive impact programmes such Unislim can have on people and their families.
Key findings include:
· Unsurprisingly, 2 out of 3 Unislim members (68%) felt that they had a weight problem due to neglecting their food and exercise routine.
· Demonstrating the extent of the physical activity barrier, only 35% of respondents said they meet the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.
· 9 out of 10 (89%) Unislim members said that the Government does not do enough to promote healthy eating and encourage exercise amongst the population.
· When questioned about what more policymakers should do, almost half of respondents (47%) called for more public amenities to encourage physical activity. A further third (33%) urged the Government to promote better understanding of nutritional guidelines and recommended daily allowances (RDA’s) while 20% said more medical diagnosis of obesity is required to assist achieve a healthier Ireland.
· Almost 9 out of 10 (88%) Unislim members surveyed said joining the weight loss programme has had a positive effect on their family’s eating habits as well as their own. 42% specifically stated that their lifestyle change has resulted in their partner or husband/wife also losing weight.
· Highlighting the extent to which many people in Ireland are still in the dark about the incidence of overweight and obesity, only 38% of respondents correctly identified that on average 6 out of every 10 adults are overweight or obese in Ireland. The majority (50%) of respondents thought that the national average for overweight and obesity stood at 4 out of every 10 adults.
· Revealing the main motivators for losing weight, 48% of Unislim members said getting in shape for summer kept them focused, closely followed by 35% who were motivated to lose weight for a special family occasion such as a wedding.
· Almost half (46%) of members stated they felt happier following their weight loss, while a further 32% felt healthier and 18% were more energised.
· Almost 80% of Unislim members perceive obesity levels to be most prevalent amongst women rather than men.
Dr. Muireann Cullen, Dietitian and Manager of the Nutrition & Health Foundation (NHF) stated: “The findings of this survey point to a real gap in joined up thinking amongst our policymakers – from the widespread lack of diagnosis in the first instance, to the underestimation and hence lack of awareness by respondents of the number of people suffering from excess weight, to the lack of public amenities to encourage more physical activity. People can exert a hugely positive influence on their diet through the great work of organisations like Unislim and the NHF. However, now more than ever we need a cohesive national framework to tackle this multi-faceted epidemic. The €1.6bn needed to treat physical inactivity in Ireland will only increase in 2012 if Ireland does not take stock and stop the spread.”
Fiona Gratzer, Unislim Ireland, concluded: “Unislim has been at the forefront of encouraging people to adopt a healthier lifestyle for 40 years now and we are delighted to join with the Nutrition & Health Foundation to drive this vital agenda forward. As peoples’ minds once again turn to New Year resolutions, we urge them to consider how they can improve their lifestyle to live better and longer. At Unislim we educate our members about healthy eating and the fact that the motivational ‘talk’ is the favorite part of the class for 47% of those surveyed demonstrates how important encouragement is as a driver of change. As one of the most obese countries in Europe, it is imperative that Ireland gets motivated to deliver a significant health impact in 2012.”
About the survey:
· *This survey of the Unislim Ireland network of members was conducted jointly by the NHF and Unislim Ireland through Survey Monkey in October – November 2011. 635 members of Unislim Ireland responded to the survey.
· Over two thirds (70%) of respondents are aged 25 – 44, 6% are 18 – 24, 18% are 45-55 and 7% are over 55.