Irish people are not as healthy as they think they are
A European Union study by Eurostat has found Irish people have a more positive perception of their health than is actually the case.
Nearly 83 per cent of Irish people rated their health as “good” or “very good”, compared with an EU-average of 67.5 per cent, placing Ireland at the top of the table for self-perceived wellbeing. Clinical ratings for obesity, cancer rates and life expectancy generally place Ireland closer to the middle.
Ireland has the highest percentage of people who rated their health as good or very good, at 82.7 per cent, in the survey carried out in all 28 EU member countries. Just 3.6 per cent of Irish people described their health as bad or very bad, while 13.7 per cent described it as fair. Cyprus (78.7 per cent) came second in the table of positive self-assessment of health, followed by the Netherlands (75.9 per cent), Sweden (75.1 per cent) and Greece (74 per cent).
The index identified Italy as the world’s healthiest country, with Cyprus, Netherlands, Sweden and Greece all ranked above Ireland. In the EU, Ireland ranks tenth in terms of life expectancy, eighth in overweight and obesity prevalence, and ninth in cancer prevalence.
The study measured the average portion of life that people experience good health in each of these countries. Rather than taking life expectancy as an indicator of good health, it measured the average share of years people can expect to be well.
For women, for example, the top five countries with the healthiest life years at birth in 2015 were Malta, Sweden, Bulgaria, Norway, and Ireland. For men, these countries varied slightly. In the top spot was Sweden, followed by Malta, Norway, Iceland, and Bulgaria.
In the How Healthy Do People Feel? study, Maltese people considered there health to be worse off and Bulgaria did not even feature among the top five, while according to the healthy life years data both Malta and Bulgaria have some of the healthiest people in Europe.
Some of the unhealthiest countries for both men and women include Portugal, Latvia, and Estonia, which match more closely with how healthy people feel in these countries. More than two-thirds (67.5 per cent) of people aged 16 or over living in the European Union (EU) perceived their health status as very good or good in 2016.
In contrast, less than a tenth (8.8 per cent) assessed their level of health as bad or very bad in the same year. The classification included five levels of self-perceived health status: very good, good, fair, bad and very bad.Men tended to rate their health better than women, 70.1 per cent compared to 65.2 per cent for women.
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