Adults in Ireland eat more daily portions of fruit and vegetables than their counterparts in any other EU country, a report has found.
Third (33pc) of adults in Ireland are reported to eat the recommended five or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day, which is more than double the EU average of 12pc.
More than eight in 10 adults in Ireland eat at least one piece of fruit or portion of veg, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found.
Its Health at a Glance 2022 report also highlighted Ireland’s progress in reducing smoking rates over the last decade, with just one in six adults now classed as daily smokers.
This is down from a quarter of adults (24pc) in 2010, representing the second-largest decrease in the bloc.
In 2020, almost one in five adults (19pc) across EU countries smoked daily, in comparison to 16pc of adults here, the OECD said.
The report also highlighted the significant threat posed by air pollution and climate change caused by greenhouse gas emission, which increases the risk of people developing serious health problems such as respiratory diseases, lung cancer, cardiovascular illnesses and leukemia.
In EU countries, exposure to a fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 – a key air pollutant – is estimated to have caused the death of 307,000 people in 2019 overall. Ireland had one of the lowest rates (27 per 100,000 people), behind Iceland (14 per 100,000) and Norway (23 per 100,000).
Mortality rates from PM2.5 were highest in central and eastern Europe with premature death rates at least 50pc higher than the EU average of 69 per 100,000.
The report also praises Ireland’s swift implementation of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
By the end of 2021, 77pc of EU adults were vaccinated while this was above 90pc in Ireland.
But during the beginning of the pandemic, Ireland had the second-largest drop in cancer surgeries being performed. Ireland had 24pc fewer cancer surgeries performed in 2020 when compared to 2019, second only to Romania, which saw a drop of 29.8pc.
Our Covid mortality rate was among the lowest in the EU, with a rate of 1,523 deaths per million citizens. The EU average was 2,632 deaths per one million people. More than 920,000 people died from Covid-19 in Europe in 2020 and 2021. It was the third biggest cause of death behind cancer and heart disease.
The report found Irish men have the highest life expectancy – at 80.8 years – of any nationality within the EU at birth in the year 2020. It is 3.3 years more than the EU average of 77.5 years.
Irish women (84.4 years) have the seventh-highest life expectancy in the EU — 1.2 years longer than the average of 83.2 in the bloc.