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Two years on and still no report on obesity action plan – O’Reilly

26 September, 2018 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has called on the government to publish an annual report for ‘A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016 – 2025’, which was 2 years old this month.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“In September 2016, the government published an obesity plan for the State entitled ‘A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016 – 2025’.

“The action plan was a welcome one with the principles of trying to reverse obesity trends, to prevent health complications, and reduce the overall burden for individuals, families, the health system, and the wider society and economy.

“The plan was two years old this month; yet, despite the government saying it would report annually, we have not seen anything from the Department of Health in terms of the progress of implementing the plan, and in particular in relation to the implementation of ‘Ten Steps Forward’ which is the key section in preventing overweight and obesity.

“Without the provision of an annual report, we cannot benchmark the progress of the plan and how it is impacting on obesity in the State. 

“Safefood research estimates that 55,056 children currently living in the State and 85,688 on the whole island will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.

“We know that the total lifetime costs of childhood obesity in this State are estimated to be €4.6 billion, with the direct healthcare associated costs estimated at €1.7 million.

“Simple health improvements can make a massive difference. For instance, if body mass index (BMI) was reduced by 1%, the lifetime cost of childhood overweight and obesity would be reduced by €270 million. A BMI reduction of 5% would reduce the lifetime costs by €1.1 billion.

“However, there seems to be little appetite to tackle the issue of obesity by this government.

“We saw this recently with the implementation of voluntary codes for junk food where there has not been a monitoring body set up or any technical guidance despite the codes being published 7 months ago.

“We need to see ring-fenced funding to tackle obesity and we need to see, as a matter of urgency, an annual report into how ‘A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016 – 2025’ is being progressed.” 

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