Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (728)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

728. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health his plans to turn the recommendations of the report on tackling childhood obesity into legislation and, specifically, that no fast food outlet be built within 1 km of a school. [13297/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The recommendation referred to by the Deputy was aligned by the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group with Step 2 of the Obesity Policy Action Plan 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 ever 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 of the NPAP and 2.1 of the OPAP, 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, and Action 59 of the NPAP which commits to developing a programme of on-going stakeholder communication and engagement, a Stakeholder Forum was held on 21 November last.

The event was planned in partnership, with substantial input from three Government Departments, (Health; Transport, Tourism and Sport; and Housing, Planning and Local Government). Following on from this Forum, a working group made up of representatives of all three departments was convened to consider the outputs of the stakeholder forum and related recommendations, including the ones aligned with the recommendation referred to by the Deputy.

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