The Federation has for the last four years been spreading the gospel that sport does so much more for Ireland than just sport. A number of different pieces of research published over the last few weeks appear to bear that out confirming the role of sport and physical activity in Irish society including, the impact on consumer spending, exercise levels in young people and the continuing obesity challenge.
An analysis of consumer spending on Visa cards, shows that Irish consumer spending on sport between May & September was €85.9 million. The analysis conducted by Visa Europe tracked spending across a range of categories such as the amount spent in sporting goods and bicycle stores, summer sports camps and membership fees for sports clubs and gyms.
In total there were just over one million sports related transactions in Ireland over the summer, with an average value of €84.39 per transaction. Sales spiked in August with transactions in a number of categories rising during the month. Sales in bicycle shops rose by 8.1% and purchases in sporting goods stores spiked by 24.9% in August alone. Sport impacting on the economy.
Meanwhile, an analysis by Mediaworks shows consumer confidence increased over the three summer months something they are attributing to the increase in optimism due to the bumper summer of sport which of course included Ireland’s successes at the Olympic & Paralympic Games as well as the country’s appearance in a European Football Championship Finals for the first time since 1988. Sport growing optimism may well have a positive impact on the economic recovery.
The latest results from the Growing Up in Ireland Study show that, in general, children take reasonably high levels of exercise. The study did find however that children from affluent backgrounds tend to take more exercise than others. However, despite this positive finding the report also states that excess weight and obesity continue to be a problem for young people and is on the increase. The study states that there is a strong link between physical activity rates and excess weight and stresses the importance of developing positive habits in young people as they tend to carry over into adulthood.
The key findings of the study in relation to physical activity and obesity were:
- 60% of 13-year-olds exercised 6 or more days in the last 14 days
- Boys were more likely to exercise than girls.
- 26% of young peoplewere either overweight or obese at 13 years – 20% were overweight and 6% obese.
- Girls were more likely to be overweight or obese than boys (30% vs. 23%).
- Relatively few (11%) non-overweight 9 year olds had developed weight problems by the age of 13. However, those with weight problems at 9 years of age tended to maintain them. Just over half who were overweight at 9 remained overweight at 13 with 11% becoming obese.
- Girls were more likely than boys to maintain weight problems.
- Children with weight issues were trying to do something about it – 78% of children who were obese were exercising to lose weight (compared to 39% of those who were not overweight or obese).
Meanwhile, a report from Safefood funded research put the cost of excess weight and obesity on the island Ireland at an estimated €1.64 billion with €1.3 billion attributable to the Republic of Ireland. The study, conducted by University College Cork found that in the Republic of Ireland, 35% of total costs (€398 million) represented direct healthcare costs for example, hospital in-patient; out-patient; GP and drug costs. However, two thirds (65%) of the economic costs were indirect costs in reduced or lost productivity and absenteeism and amounted to €728 million.