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Obesity Strategy

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 25 February 2015

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ceisteanna (151)

Bernard Durkan


151. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health his plans to tackle obesity, with particular reference to childhood obesity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8468/15]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Special Action Group on Obesity (SAGO) has been established, comprising representatives from the Department of Health, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Education and Skills, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and safefood to examine and progress a number of issues to address the problem of obesity, in both adults and children.

The Special Action Group on Obesity has progressed a range of measures to tackle the problem of Childhood Obesity, including the Childhood Obesity Media Campaign, which is a Safe food/Healthy Ireland/HSE three year Childhood Obesity Campaign entitled "Let’s take it on – one small step at a time" and which is designed to communicate practical solutions for parents to adopt in order to tackle the every day habits that are associated with excess weight in childhood. The latest phase on ‘treats’ launched in September 2014. Other measures include a choice of healthy foods and drinks in vending machines in post-primary schools; Treatment Algorithms for adults and children and opportunistic screening and monitoring for earlier detection of overweight and obesity in children. The Department of Health has worked with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, with regard to the marketing of food and drink to children for the revised "Children’s Code to Restrict Marketing of High Fat, High Salt and High Sugar Foods and Drinks."

Ireland has been involved in the World Health Organization European Region Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative since Round 1 in 2008 and we are encouraged by recent results of Round 3 which show a plateau in high levels of obesity in 7 year olds.

Progress has also been made with the publication of Healthy Eating Guidelines, the calories on menus initiative and the Report on the Recommendations to reduce consumption of high fat, salt and sugar foods and drinks from the Top Shelf of the Food Pyramid. My Department's Healthy Eating Guidelines are being reviewed and in conjunction with the Department of Education, my Department is developing Healthy Eating Policies for Schools. The Post-Primary Policy is at an advanced stage of development and the Primary Schools Policy will be developed soon after this launches. As part of our EU Presidency in 2013, Ireland led on the development of an EU Childhood Obesity Action Plan which is now in the implementation phase. We are also leading a Work Package in the forthcoming EU Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity. We are gathering evidence across the European Union on the cost and the impact of childhood obesity and forecasting the social and economic burden for 2020 and 2025.

My Department is also in the process of developing an Obesity Policy which will include measures to tackle overweight and obesity in adults, with special emphasis on children, as prevention is a primary objective in tackling obesity.