300.000 Irish children are obese – and health experts now call for ‘no-fry zones’ around schools
1 in 5 Irish children are now so overweight they fall into the 'clinically obese' category a landmark new report has found.
What this means, is that Ireland is now falling behind other European countries in the battle against obesity, and, in fact, we now have one of the fastest rising rates of childhood obesity in the world.
This has prompted health experts to demanded a radical reshaping of the nation's entire "food environment”.
The study also highlighted issues around food marketing, particularly the promotion of unhealthy foods to children via packaging.
The first Irish Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI) highlighted how Ireland compared poorly with other countries when it comes to rolling out initiatives such as so-called ‘no-fry zones’, school food policies and measures aimed at reducing the marketing of unhealthy food to children in the media and online.
The Food-EPI will now serve as a benchmark for monitoring the nation's health and food lifestyle.
It was conducted as part of a wider European project in collaboration with research groups from countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Poland and New Zealand.
“The Government needs to seize an opportunity to improve the diets of the Irish population, prevent obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases by investing in the kind of policies and programmes which have demonstrated success in a number of countries,” explained Dr Harrington.
“The benefits are two-fold – aside from improving the health of the general population, these measures are highly cost-effective, and in the long-run can help counteract the rising healthcare costs associated with obesity and diet-related-non communicable diseases.”