Launch of new 2019 Healthy Ireland campaign

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne TD have launched the 2019 Healthy Ireland campaign and announced funding of €1 million to boost community engagement on health and wellbeing in every county.

Analysis by the Healthy Ireland Unit in the Department of Health shows that 60% of Irish adults are overweight or obese, with only one in three adults meeting physical activity guidelines or eating enough fruit and vegetables. This year’s Healthy Ireland campaign aims to address this by encouraging people to make positive choices to improve their health and wellbeing across three main themes – Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Mental Wellbeing. The 2019 campaign seeks to raise public awareness of gov.ie/HealthyIreland as the place to go that brings trusted sources of information and supports together in one place to help people get started on making healthy changes.

Unveiling the new campaign, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “When you are trying to switch to a healthier lifestyle, it can be hard to know what to do and even where to start. The Healthy Ireland 2019 campaign aims to help you get the information you need to make positive changes to improve your physical and mental health. Through Healthy Ireland, we are growing awareness in every county to make it easier for you to know where you can make that healthy start in your own community so you can eat better, exercise more and feel better. If you want to get started, check out gov.ie/HealthyIreland for more information.”

Minister Simon Harris added: “Promoting the health of our population to prevent illness is an essential part of our Sláintecare strategy. Under the Sláintecare Action Plan we will progress a programme to engage and empower citizens in their own health and wellbeing. The new phase of the campaign being launched today will help us get the messages of Healthy Ireland to an even wider audience. The work already underway through Healthy Ireland at national and local level, including through the growing Healthy Cities and Counties initiative, will be expanded as we seek to engage every family and community in improving the health of the nation.”

Healthy Ireland recommends a number of measures to incorporate healthy eating, physical activity and mental wellbeing into daily life…

It recommends the following food tips to encourage healthy eating:
– Eat more vegetables, salad and fruit – up to seven servings a day
– Limit intake of high fat, sugar and salt in food and drinks
– Size matters: use the Food Pyramid as a guide for serving sizes
– Increase your physical activity levels
– Small changes can make a big difference

To improve physical wellbeing, it recommends:
– Children and young people (2-18): all children and young people should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day
– Adults (18-64): at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on five days a week or 150 minutes a week
– Older people (over 65): at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week, or 150 minutes a week. Focus on aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening and balance
– Children and adults with a disability should aim to be as active as their disability allows, and aim to meet the guideline for their age group if possible

There are a lot of things that you can do to ensure you’re looking after your mental well-being, including:
– Going for a walk or run can help get rid of pent-up energy and can leave you feeling much calmer.
– Hanging out with friends.
– Taking some deep breaths and calming down — deep breathing can help to relax the body.
– Trying to avoid smoking, alcohol and caffeine.
– Speaking to someone you trust about how you are feeling.
– Getting some good sleep, as a lack of sleep can affect your general well-being.

Also, speaking at the event, Minister for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne said: “Our mission is to get the Healthy Ireland message into communities all across the country, so that people can find the information and support to make healthy changes close to home. I’m delighted that we are making additional funding available to every local authority to help boost the work to raise awareness and strengthen connections at local level, so we can bring Healthy Ireland to life in every community. We want everyone, young and old, to feel supported in their communities in taking steps, big and small, towards a healthier lifestyle.”

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health said: “Improving the health of our population is the ongoing priority for all of us who work in the health system, but it’s important to acknowledge that health and wellbeing is also a priority for us as a society. We have made some good progress in implementing Healthy Ireland with significant support from the growing alliance of partners and champions for health and wellbeing across many different sectors, at both national and local level, including local authorities, schools and colleges, workplaces and community groups. A key role for the health system as we move forward is to continue to build capacity in these other sectors so that they can play an even stronger role in leading and sustaining a national movement for health and wellbeing and increasing our collective focus on prevention.

Click HERE for more information on Health Ireland