93% of Irish parents don't believe their children are overweight

Report highlights difference between reality and perception as the figures paint a different picture

The 2016 Pfizer Health Index was released earlier today. It is the eleventh edition of the annual report and threw up some interesting statistics about how Irish people view the value of their health and that of their children.

86% of Irish people ranked health as a top priority investment for the future while another 55% of us view budgetary health cuts as having the deepest impact on us. However, the research also showed that Irish adults have become more optimistic about their health with 65% rating their health as 8 or higher out of 10.

Parents were also questioned on a number of topics specifically relating to their children with only 47% of them knowing their child’s weight and only 7% believed their child may be overweight. Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director of Human Health & Nutrition at Safefood said:

“One in four of our children are currently overweight or obese, yet because the norm has changed, we are not recognising this reality”.

This year, the report also looked at family health as 32% of us cite their health as our main concern. Parents were asked to rank their health priorities for their children:

  1. 31% prioritised reaching developmental milestones
  2. 29% prioritised access to GP care
  3. 25% prioritised prevention of childhood illness
  4. 25% prioritised social development / developing friendships
  5. 23% prioritised learning ability / educational performance
  6. 19% prioritised mental health anxiety
  7. 18% prioritised vaccination programmes

The report also showed that whilst private medical insurance holder numbers stabilised at 36%, this figure is still far off pre-recession levels of cover. Medical card holders remained the same as 2015 at 43% whilst those attending a GP increased over the past five years from 23% to 29% in 2016.

Dr Nina Byrnes said:

“It is reassuring to see that people are more positive about their health and in general we have seen an increase in the numbers of people visiting their GP and participating in health checks or screenings. Based on my general practice, the most common reasons for visiting the GP are skin conditions, cold and flu, musculoskeletal complaints, psychological issues, chronic disease care, pregnancy care, child immunisations and preventative health investigations.”

Looking to the future, Managing Director of Pfizer Healthcare Ireland, Paul Reid said; “It will take some time yet and more years of good economic performance but we urgently must look at our investment in health which was reduced in recent years. We are in an era of scientific advancement and technological progress with the potential to significantly improve people’s health and extend life with policies and strategies which support investment in health innovation.”