Ireland tops new report for eating fruit and vegtables

The report shows that 33% of adults in Ireland reach the target of consuming five or more portions of fruit or vegetables a day.
Ireland tops new report for eating fruit and vegtables

Hand of maid washing tomato fresh vegetables preparation healthy food in kitchen. Picture iStock

People in Ireland eat more daily portions of fruit and vegetables than in any other EU country, according to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD’s Health at a Glance: Europe 2022 report showed that Ireland reported the highest consumption of five a day in the EU.

The report shows that 33% of adults in Ireland reach the target of consuming five or more portions of fruit or vegetables a day.

Professor Ivan J. Perry, former Dean of the UCC School of Public Health commented on the findings, saying:

“Despite the problems with our health sector, which are obviously real and important, we can still say that on many of the core indicators for health in Ireland continue to improve. This reflects our status as a wealthy and developed country, and we are performing at a high level, and this is reflected in our health outcomes in the report.” 

Ireland was followed by the Netherlands at 30% and Denmark at 23%.

Ivan Perry UCC
Ivan Perry UCC

A further 48% of the Irish population consumes between one and four portions daily.

The research by the OECD also showed that Ireland had the second lowest number of people consuming no fruit or vegetables.

19% of the Irish population reported not eating a portion of fruit or vegetables daily, which was marginally beaten by Belgium, who reported just 17%.

A further analysis of Irish nutritional consumption showed that women were 10% more likely to consume a high quantity of healthy foods such as fruit and veg.

Those in Ireland who received a tertiary education were 12% more likely to consume the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables, compared to those who did not receive a post-secondary education.

“It is hard to overlook the importance of income, education and social status as critical determents of health and wellbeing. It’s not unique to just Ireland. Whatever we do as a country to promote social justice so that income and education opportunities are as fairly distributed as possible, will promote the overall health outcomes of Ireland,” Professor Perry reflected on the OECD report.

Ireland was also found to be among the top ten EU countries to partake in over 150 plus hours of physical activity weekly.

On average 37% of the Irish population engage in over 150 hours of exercise on average, ranking the seventh highest country.

Professor Ivan Perry believes that Ireland’s high ranking in terms on physical exercise is a direct result of the emphasis placed on sports and recreation development by Government and local authorities’ initiatives.

“If we look at Cork for instance, we have a strong Healthy Cities movement which is an effective collaboration between the health sector and Cork City Council to promote these broader social determents of health including the physical environment in Cork city,” said the UCC professor.

The report showed that those who had received a tertiary education in Ireland were 20% more likely to engage in more physical activity than those who had not.

The Health at a Glance 2022 Report also highlights Ireland’s progress in reducing smoking rates over the last decade.

In 2020, almost one in five adults (19%) across EU countries smoked daily, in comparison to 16% of adults in Ireland.

Smoking rates in Ireland dropped by eight percentage points from 24% in 2010.

This is the second largest drop across EU countries, behind Estonia which saw its smoking rates fall from 27% in 2010 to 18% in 2020.

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