A Letterkenny councillor wants the Government to give tax relief on gym membership.
Councillor Jimmy Kavanagh says a recent survey showed that as many as 50% of the people of Donegal could be overweight.
“The research reveals that 48% of the Irish population are overweight, the figure for Donegal is slightly above the national average at 50%.
“The survey by Aviva Health also reveals that heart disease is the biggest killer in the country accounting for 10,000 deaths annually or 36% of all deaths.
“Tellingly the survey also reveals that 25% of the adult population take no physical exercise. Many of the premature deaths caused by heart disease could be prevented by lifestyle changes, such as a good exercise regime and proper diet.
“New Year is the time when people look at their lifestyle and make resolutions to improve or change aspects of their behaviour.
“ The government could give a timely boost to people looking to start an exercise programme by introducing tax relief for gym membership in next years budget.
“Such an initiative would encourage people to join a gym and to take regular exercise, as many gyms in the country are attached to local hotels, it would also be a boost to a sector which is currently struggling because of the economic climate.
“Given that the cost to the Irish economy of heart related disease is estimated at €866 million annually, the money spent on tax relief would be money very well spent and would be returned to the Government many times over in reduced health costs and increased productivity,” he said.
Councillor Kavanagh said that if Fine Gael do form part of the next Government, he will be asking Deputy Joe McHugh to request the new Health Minister to push for the inclusion of tax relief on gym membership in the next budget.