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Second Major Report by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) Published

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New Findings Show High Rates of Cardiovascular Disease, Arthritis and Obesity Among Older People in Ireland

Dublin/Brussels February 7th, 2014 – The second major report by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), a national study of over 8,000 people aged 50 and over in Ireland lead by Trinity College Dublin was published on January 29th, 2014.

The findings will inform health and social policy and practice in Ireland with long-term benefit for an ageing society.


Key Findings:

  • Over one third of the over 50s in Ireland are obese and a further 44% are overweight.

  • Obesity is strongly associated with heart disease and diabetes. Diabetes is three times more common in obese individuals, and rates of cardiovascular disease among obese over 50s are nearly twice as high as rates among those of normal weight.

  • About one third of the over 50s report low levels of physical activity, with more women than men reporting low physical activity.

  • Over half of those aged 75 and over have arthritis. 10% of those aged 75 and over without arthritis when first surveyed went on to develop the condition.

  • 16.5% of adults over 50 smoke (down from 18.3% in Wave ) and a notable decrease in smoking occurs around retirement age. 

  • Problematic drinking has risen for both men and women; from 17% to 22% in men and from 8% to 11% in women. 

  • Polypharmacy (i.e., taking five or more medications) has increased from 21% to 26%.

  • Nearly 20% of men and 25% of women over 50 have fallen in the past year, and almost 10% of the over 50s have had a fall requiring medical treatment in the last year.

  • The over 50s enjoy high levels of satisfaction with their quality of life into late old age, and those with strong social networks and relationships have higher quality of life than those who are less socially active.

  • There has been a decline in private health insurance cover among the under 65s but an increase in those aged 65 or over.

  • The percentage of the over 50s with a medical or GP visit card has increased overall, but declined in those aged 70 years and over.

  • The uptake of prostate and breast cancer screening is high but the uptake of the flu vaccine is low.

  • The incomes of the over 50s have remained stable, but wealth has fallen, largely due to a reduction in the value of property assets.

Commenting on the significance of the study, Principal Investigator of TILDA and Professor of Medical Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin, Professor Rose Anne Kenny said that “[…]TILDA will greatly assist new policy initiatives to address health behaviours and disease prevention so that our later life years can be healthy and independent.”

Building on great recognition Ireland, TILDA is also actively seeking to collaborate with European partners and to contribute to the Innovation Union through Horizon 2020 - the EU’s new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. 



Media Enquiries 


Jessica Hadjis 

ISC Intelligence in Science 

Email: jessica.hadjis@iscintelligence.com 

Tel: +32 2 88 88 100 





Press Officer for the Faculty of Health Sciences, 

Trinity College Dublin, Yolanda Kennedy,

Tel:+353-1-8963551 or 086 3860638;

Email: yokenned@tcd.ie



Editor’s Note


The Irish LongituDinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) was launched in November 2006 to study a representative cohort of over 8,000 people, aged 50 and over and resident in Ireland, charting their health, social and economic circumstances over a 10-year period. It the most comprehensive study of ageing ever carried out in Ireland and is modelled closely on long-running ‘sister’ studies worldwide, such as the US Health and Retirement Survey and the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing. The study is being carried out by Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with an interdisciplinary panel of scientific researchers, with expertise in various fields of ageing from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), University College Cork (UCC) and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). A group of international scientists advises the TILDA investigators. Funding has been provided by the Department of Health, Irish Life and the Atlantic Philanthropies. 



Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. Running from 2014 to 2020 with a budget of just over €70 billion, the EU’s new programme for research and innovation is part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe.

Horizon 2020 provides major simplification through a single set of rules. It will combine all research and innovation funding currently provided through the Framework Programmes for Research and Technical Development, the innovation related activities of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

Further information on Horizon 2020: http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020/index_en.cfm?pg=home