Saturday 21 September 2013

Growing out in Ireland

Growing Up in Ireland was headed up by Sheila Greene of TCD and James Williams of the ESRI in 2006, and funded by the Irish government. Professor Greene retired in 2011, but many of the project workers are still associated with TCD.  It is a longitudinal study, set up to record the social, medical and psychological progress of two cohorts of Irish children one starting in 2008 aged 9 months and the other at 9 years.  The initial plan was to track the same children over a period of 7 years finishing in 2015.  The current Minister of Children Frances Fitzgerald this Summer gave appro for an extension of the study from 2015 to 2019.  That way there will be age overlap between the two cohorts and we can see whether the recession has impacted on our children.

Aisling Murray, one of the effectives, was deftly fielding questions on Newstalk Radio yesterday morning as I drove to work.  There are shedloads of data in the study because the cohorts are large: N=11,000 for the 'infants' and N=8500 for the were-9-year-olds.  There are scads and scads of pages to read too, so I won't be able to give anything like an executive summary of the 31 page (!) executive summary of the report at the 3rd Birthday milestone which was launched yesterday.  The whole project is laid out at  But I will abstract one observation from the parallel nine-year-olds study.  First the good news: 75% of 9 year olds are not fat.  The bad news is that 25% are either overweight (19%) or obese (6%). 

Is that bad? Is that anomalous? Not in contemporary terms. If we compare those bald figures to some data from NCSL in the USA it is clear that Ireland barely scrapes into the large league:
The green arrow indicates the position of Ireland.  ExCel has printed every other state.  You might try to guess which are the intervening (even-numbered) states. Guess where Arkansas is, for example.  The GUI study has some, to me, pretty shocking statements about the incidence of asthma as well but I won't report them here and now in case we get too depressed altogether.

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