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Health Promotion

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 19 January 2022

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Questions (1560)

Colm Burke


1560. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health if his Department will consider launching a public health campaign advising of the health dangers of obesity and measures of prevention; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [63613/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The policy instrument for obesity in Ireland is “A Healthy Weight for Ireland’, the Obesity Policy and Action Plan (OPAP), which was launched in September 2016 as part of the Healthy Ireland Framework.  The OPAP covers a 10-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. 

Communication with the public forms an important strand of the OPAP, and Step 4 of the OPAP is to Implement a strategic and sustained communications strategy that empowers individuals, communities and service providers to become obesity aware and equipped to change, with a particular focus on families with children in the early years.   Under Healthy Ireland, the Department, safefood and the HSE run a communications campaign called START (, which aims to inspire, empower and support parents to start building and persist with healthy lifestyle habits in the family to prevent childhood obesity.  This five-year campaign, launched in 2017, acknowledges that the solutions to tackling overweight and obesity are multiple and that every sector has a role to play.  Key messages of the campaign are to minimise the intake of foods high in fat, salt and sugar and eat more fruit and vegetables, establish water and milk as routine drinks and provide appropriate child-sized portion sizes.  Increasing physical activity and sleep time and limiting screen time are also highlighted. 

More recently in Q4 2021, action under Step 4 of the OPAP has included the Healthy Ireland Let’s Get Set campaign ( ), which empowers us all to set a healthy routine in relation to eating well, getting active and minding our mood.

The launch of a new five year adult Healthy Weight Campaign is a priority under the OPAP for 2022.  The design of the campaign is being input into by members of the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group and it will include a key target audience segmentation for 25- 34 year olds, as from 35 years of age onwards, research shows that large increases in overweight and obesity can occur. Qualitative research with different demographics of people within this age cohort has been carried out and is informing the development of the campaign.

In addressing this age group, the key focus will be on how to be weight aware and maintain a healthy weight, The focus of the campaign is aimed at the whole population of 25-34 year olds, but will also include a focus on disadvantaged communities, where levels of overweight and obesity tend to be higher.  The campaign will be a supported by initiatives and programmes delivering the key messages within the healthcare system such as the Healthy Food Made Easy programme and the recently announced dedicated services of a Food and Nutrition Officer in each of the 19 areas in the Sláintecare Healthy Communities Programme. The people in these positions will work within the communities to educate families about healthy eating and help address poor nutrition.   Work on the adult Healthy Weight Campaign is now well advanced and the campaign will commence during 2022.