Thursday, 12 July 2012

Questions (238)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

241 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health with regard to the dangers of obesity in Ireland, his views on whether it would make more sense to educate and train young persons regarding the dangers of eating food which is unhealthy for them throughout their school years rather than waiting until they are finished schools and then trying to alert them to the calories contained in food by forcing the providers and sellers of such food to account for the calorie content on menus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34177/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health)

As Minister for Health I established the Special Action Group on Obesity to advise me on priority actions to tackle overweight and obesity. This Group identified putting calorie information on menus of fast food establishments, restaurants, bars and coffee shops, as one of a range of measures. Therefore, I have prioritised calorie posting on menus as a key initiative that will have a positive impact in addressing the problem of our rising levels of overweight and obesity, and as a means of educating the general public on the calorie content of food portions. It is a simple concept that will provide consumers with information on calories and facilitate them in make healthier choices, eat smaller portions and enjoy food without over-eating.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland‘s report on their national consultation, which I launched last week, showed that there was an overwhelming demand by consumers (96%) for calorie menu labelling in food outlets. With regard to schools, my Department already has Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Preschools and Primary Schools which are being implemented in liaison with Health promotion teams in HSE areas and similar Guidelines for Post Primary Schools to facilitate them in drawing up a Healthy School Food Policy are at an advanced stage.