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Evidence to inform national health policies

Prof Ivan Perry

Professor Ivan Perry from Health Research Board Centre for Diet and Health has found that small but realistic reductions in salt and fat intake, coupled with a modest increase in fruit and vegetable consumption could make a significant impact on deaths from coronary heart disease.

  • 395 deaths could be prevented each year on the conservative scenario of reducing salt intake by 1gm per day, reducing trans fat by 0.5% of energy intake and saturated fat by 1% of energy intake, as well as consuming one additional portion of fruit or vegetables a day.
  • 1070 deaths from CHD and stroke (or one in four of current such deaths) could be prevented each year on the substantial, but politically feasible scenario of reducing salt intake by 3gm per day, reducing trans fat by 1% of energy intake and saturated fat by 3% of energy intake, as well as three additional portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Irish Alcohol Diaries 2013

Alcohol consumption in Ireland infographic

The National Alcohol Diary survey conducted by the HRB in 2013 and published in 2014 provided unprecedented information on the nation's drinking habits. The evidence contained within will be a cornerstone of public health legislation in the area for years to come.

  • 75% of all alcohol consumed was done so as part of a binge drinking session.
  • One in five (21.1%) drinkers engaged in binge drinking at least once a week.
  • More than half (54%) of 18-75 year old drinkers were classified as harmful drinkers which equates to 1.35 million harmful drinkers in Ireland.
  • One in eight (13%) men and almost one in ten (9%) women drank their recommended weekly guidelines in one sitting in the week prior to the survey.
  • Among 18-24 year-olds, 28% of men and 22% of women consume weekly guidelines in one sitting.

Front cover of the Health effects of community water fluoridation

The Department of Health asked the Health Research Board to determine: 'what is the impact, positive or negative, on the systemic health (excluding dental health) of the population for those exposed to artificially fluoridated water between 0.4 and 1.5 parts per million (ppm)?'

Having examined the peer-reviewed scientific literature in detail the report found no definitive evidence that community water fluoridation is associated with positive or negative systemic health effects. 

Illicit Drug Markets cover

Dr Johnny Connolly from the HRB, produced an in-depth study on the development of local drug markets for the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol.

The report examines the nature, structure and organisation of illicit drugs markets in Ireland; the impact of drug-dealing on local communities; and a study of current interventions against drug dealing. 

‘Despite widespread concern about the societal impact of illicit drug markets and related crime, and the significant public resources invested in responding to the various harms associated with the trade in illicit drugs, there has been an almost total absence of in-depth research and analysis of this trade and of the nature and impact of such interventions. This research has sought to fill a significant knowledge gap in this important area of Irish drug policy', says Dr Connolly.

Figures from our information systems

Researcher looking at computer screen

The HRB manages five national health information systems, several of which are considered the gold standard amongst their worldwide peers. They provide key data to inform service planning in the area of physical and intellectual disability, drug treatment services and psychiatric care. Information from these systems show:

  • People with intellectual disability are living longer and beyond the care-giving capacity of their carers. This means that they will require a range of additional service and support if they are to continue living at home.
  • Drug related deaths increased 50% between 2004 and 2012.
  • Alcohol is involved in 1 in 3 poisonings.
  • 1 in 3 poisonings involve benzodiazepines.
  • There were 18,457 admissions to Irish psychiatric units and hospitals in 2013.

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