Press Release

Minister launches Fieldwork on Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition Survey

The Department of Health and Children has commissioned 10,000 interviews to collect data on the health and lifestyle behaviour of adults in Ireland.

Speaking at the launch of the fieldwork phase of the 2006 Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition, Mr. Sean Power T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, commented that “This mammoth undertaking is designed to provide us with vital data on key health and lifestyle behaviours like smoking, alcohol use, nutrition and physical activity. It also allows us to identify behaviour trends nationally and with regional breakdowns, and will ultimately help us provide more focused health promotion services to the most appropriate segments of the population.”

It is widely accepted that the lifestyle choices of individuals have a direct impact on their physical and mental well-being, and these choices and behaviours can be influenced or determined by many factors such as age, sex, socio-economic group, income or living conditions. To ensure that health promotion policies and initiatives are effective it is crucial that the information on which these policies are developed is accurate and up to date.

The Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition of adults in Ireland was first commissioned in 1998 by the Department of Health and Children to address this lack of data. The surveys are undertaken at four yearly intervals, and continue to produce reliable baseline data for a representative cross-section of the adult population. The results of the survey will inform policy development and priority setting at national and regional levels as well as providing a basis for making all-island and international comparisons with the obvious benefit of adapting initiatives and interventions from abroad to meet our needs here.

Some of the important health issues to be considered in SLAN 06 are the impact of the smoking ban since the last survey, the level of physical activity in adults and food choices and places of consumption. A team from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the Economic and Social Research Institute, University College Cork and NUI Galway will conduct the project. Project leader Professor Hannah McGee from the Royal College of Surgeons said they were particularly pleased to have the opportunity to undertake detailed 1,500 physical examinations as part of the project. These examinations will provide important information on the risk of lifestyle-related diseases in the general population.

Minister Power continued with a cautionary note that the survey would “only be successful if people are willing to give their time to the interviewers to undertake the survey” and emphasised that “the information they provide will contribute to the planning process for better and more appropriate health and health promotion services around the country”. He urged people if approached by the survey team to co-operate with this important research project.