Wednesday 19 December 2018

Irish children face a US-style obesity crisis

IRELAND is facing a US-style obesity crisis with up to 327,000 children now described as overweight.

Health experts have predicted a surge in the obesity rate among Irish children and called on the food and drink industry to take responsibility.

It was warned that, unless our spiralling obesity problem is tackled, the country will face a crisis on the same scale as the US, where a third of children are defined as overweight.

Director of the weight management clinic at St Columcille's Hospital Dr Donal O'Shea warned that Ireland is experiencing a "population separation" -- whereby overweight children are growing heavier whilst children at an optimum weight are staying the same.

"In childhood the main issues are around self-esteem and the worsening of things like childhood asthma and skin problems," he said.

Recent studies show that a fifth of Irish children are currently overweight but that this figure is steadily increasing.

Former Olympic athlete and Head of the Irish Sports Council John Treacy called on the government to put pressure on the food and drink industry to introduce a new style of food packaging for children which involves smaller portions.

"The Government needs to get involved and look closely at these things. We know kids are more active than they ever were and there are a lot of good things happening but we also know they are eating too much and drinking a lot of fizzy drinks which have a lot of calories.

"The government must keep this in the public attention."


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