Four out of five of over-50s face battle with their weight
the idea of austerity budgets making people fatter because of cheap food choices is to be investigated by the TILDA study on ageing at Trinity College.
Four out of five Irish adults over the age of 50 are overweight or obese, according to the organisation's latest report.
The study draws attention to the increase in obesity "in times of financial stress as people may choose cheaper and thus less healthy food options".
It also says that the prohibitive cost of sports and health club membership in times of economic crisis "limits exercise opportunities".
The report concludes that TILDA is "ideally placed to investigate the effects of the various austerity Budgets from the period of 2009 onwards" on health and obesity in older Irish adults.
The latest findings in the ongoing study of more than 8,000 people show that 36pc of adults over 50 are obese and 43pc are overweight.
Older men are fatter than women - 38pc are obese compared with 33pc of women - and the rate of obesity among Irish men over 50 is similar to that of the US while UK rates are much lower.
In the case of women, the rate here is lower than in the US and similar to rates in the UK.
The size of people's waists has the clearest link to heart problems, with 21pc of men in this category suffering from at least one form of heart disease and 17pc of women.
These people are also more likely to have diabetes - 11pc compared with 2.5pc of those with a normal waist size.
Nearly half of people with a "substantially increased" waist size have blood pressure problems compared with 22pc of those with a normal waist size.
Chronic conditions such as arthritis also affect more obese people, who walk more slowly and are less likely to meet the recommended levels of physical activity.
Obese people, says the report, visit their GP more frequently, take more medications and are more likely to be on five or more medications regularly than non-obese people.