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Obesity Strategy

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 25 September 2018

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Questions (312)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

312. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the progress made on the national roll-out of the no-fry zone in County Wicklow, which prevents the sale of fatty or fast food near schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38549/18]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The initiative that the Deputy has raised is relevant to the national Obesity Policy and Action Plan being implemented under the aegis of the Department of Health.

A Healthy Weight for Ireland’, the Obesity Policy and Action Plan (OPAP), was launched in September 2016 under the auspices of the Healthy Ireland agenda.

The OPAP covers a ten year period up to 2025 and aims to reverse obesity trends, prevent health complications and reduce the overall burden for individuals, families, the health system, and the wider society and economy. It must be emphasised that every sector of our society has a role in reducing the burden of obesity and the OPAP clearly acknowledges this.

The policy prescribed 'Ten Steps Forward' that would be taken to prevent overweight and obesity. Under the Plan, a new Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group (OPIOG) was established in October 2017 under the Chair of the Department of Health. It is comprised of representatives from a range of Government Departments and Agencies - including the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Step 2 of the OPAP is Regulate for a healthier environment. One of the Actions under this Step is to "Develop guidelines and support material for those working in developing the built environment for urban development and planning in relation to reducing the obesogenic environment". The OPAP recognised that changing the obesogenic environment is a critical factor underpinning the success of maintaining the population at a healthy weight. The prevention approach aims to gradually change Ireland's food environment to one that facilitates consumption of healthier food and drinks and fosters active lifestyles. The OPAP acknowledged that food and retail outlets are more widely available now than every before and that this becomes important as children have discretionary income and may not follow the healthy eating guidelines. It therefore declared that it is important that the health input into the local area planning process is consistent and evidence based.

This area is being progressed through engagement with other Government Departments to support the work of stakeholders involved in planning and developing the built environment.

In line with Actions 31 and 59 of the National Physical Activity Plan, which commit to developing guidelines and support materials for those working in developing the built environment in order to promote the importance of physical activity (31), and to develop a programme of on-going stakeholder communication and engagement to ensure delivery of the Plan (59), it is intended to hold a Stakeholder Forum in November this year. The planned Forum will focus on the theme of the Built Environment.

Planning for the Forum is at an advanced stage, and a number of individuals - including key representation from the initiative referred to by the Deputy - have been approached with regard to giving presentations at the Forum. A wide range of stakeholders will be invited to the Forum, comprising key representatives from health, sport, planning, environment, local government and others. Full details of the Forum will be available once finalised.

Finally, the question of legislation around planning matters for the issue raised by the Deputy is ultimately a matter for my colleague the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, and I understand that he has addressed the position on this in his reply to Parliamentary Question 34831/17. For convenience a link to this question is here: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2017-07-13/1332/?highlight%5B0%5D=34831.

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