Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Tuesday, 29th April 2008-Latest Results from SLÁN Survey Published Today

29 April 2008

The results from the latest National Health and Lifestyle Survey (SLÁN 2007) were published today. The survey, which was commissioned by the Department of Health and Children, was carried out by a consortium including the Division of Population Health Sciences at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), the Economic and Social Research (ESRI), University College Cork (UCC) and the National University of Ireland Galway (UCG).  

The steering group from RCSI includes Professor Hannah McGee (Project Director), Dr. Emer Shelley, Professor Ruairí Brugha and Professor Ronan Conroy . Researchers on the project include Ms Karen Morgan (Project Manager), Ms Nuala Tully and Mr. Mark Ward.

The Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, Mr Pat The Cope Gallagher, T.D. who published the published the results from SLÁN 2007 and Professor Hannah McGee, Chair of Department of Psychology and Division of Population Health Sciences, RCSI.

SLÁN 2007, is the third in a series of lifestyle and behaviour studies of the Irish population. The study involved face-to-face interviews with 10,364 adults along with a sub-study on body size of 967 younger adults (18-44 years old) and a more detailed physical examination of 1,207 adults aged 45 and over. The survey contains a wealth of data on lifestyle behaviours of the Irish adult population including smoking, alcohol consumption, mental health, diet and physical activity. 

Some of the key facts to emerge from the survey include:

- Half the population recorded self-rated health as ‘excellent’ or very ‘good’ and that this has increased since the last SLÁN survey in 2002.  Similarly, there is a reported increase in the number of respondents who described their quality of life as good or very good. 

- There was a decrease from 2002 to 2007 in the percentage of respondents who reported consuming 6 or more standard drinks (‘risky drinking’) at least once a week.

- Overall, 65% reported consuming the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. One third either always or usually added salt to food at the table. Half reported snacking between meals, most commonly on biscuits and cakes. 

- 29% of the population smoked, with higher rates amongst young people.  Almost half of both male and female smokers reported attempting to quit within the previous 12 months; younger smokers were more likely to report attempting to quit.

- Younger men reported higher levels of physical activity, reducing with increasing age. This contrasts with the relatively low level of physical activity in women across all age groups.  Of concern was the fact that respondents who reported that they were physically inactive gave their main reason as ‘no time’.

- Over half of respondents (55%) reported being involved in community activities, compared to 59% in 2002.

- The results that emerged from the physical examination of the population sample over 45 years of age point to the prevalence of raised cholesterol and high blood pressure in this population group. In relation to body weight, 39% of those examined (ages 18+) were medically over-weight with a further 25% classified as obese.

Professor Hannah McGee, RCSI on behalf of the Research Team said "We are delighted as a cross-institutional team to deliver SLÁN 2007, the largest national health and lifestyle survey of adults undertaken in Ireland to date. It builds on two previous surveys to provide a profile of health since 1998. It also adds a substantial physical examination component where for the first time we have national data on the major risk factors for cardiovascular health. While many of the findings provide sombre reading, they give vital direction for policy and service developments in the coming decade.”

The Survey Report is available on line at or at