‘A Healthy Weight for Ireland’, the Government’s Obesity Policy and Action Plan (OPAP), was launched in September 2016 under the auspices of the Healthy Ireland agenda. It 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.
An Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group (OPIOG) was established in October 2017. On establishment the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group identified key early areas for action and established two sub-groups, one on Healthy Eating and one on Reformulation.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the business of the Department of Health and upon the work of many of its members, the OPIOG has only met once in 2020 to date. This meeting was held remotely on 24th September and the meeting was updated on the progress of the work of the two sub-groups.
The sub-group on Healthy Eating has as a priority output the development of Healthy Eating Guidelines for 1-4 year-olds. The Guidelines and associated resources, including a new Children’s Food Pyramid, were approved by the OPIOG at its meeting and were launched by Minister Donnelly, Minister O’Gorman and myself on 1st. October 2020. This work is now being followed by the development of nutrition standards for Early Learning and Care settings.
The sub-group on Reformulation has as its priority the setting of targets for food and drink reformulation and a “roadmap” for reformulation action to achieve those targets. The draft roadmap is at an advanced stage, and the submission of a report with the targets and roadmap is expected before the end of 2020.
As the work of the two existing sub-groups is coming to a conclusion, it is expected that the focus will move to other priority areas to continue the work of the OPIOG into the future. It is hoped to hold a further meeting of the OPIOG before the end of 2020.