Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin call for comprehensive strategy to tackle child obesity

29 March, 2006

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson John O'Dowd MLA has said the consultation by OFCOM on the advertising of junk foods to children should be part of a comprehensive strategy to tackle obesity in children.

Mr O Dowd said

"Sinn Féin share the concerns of health professionals and health user groups about the increasing prevalence of obesity in children and young people. We believe that there is a need for an All Ireland Taskforce to implement an effective and comprehensive strategy to deal with this increasing health problem.

"Obesity is a serious, chronic medical condition. The linkage between obesity and diabetes is well-established, with a significant increase in the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in children under 18 years of age. Obese children have a 25-50% chance of progression to adult obesity and, indeed, the figures may even be higher."

Outlining Seven key priorities which the task group should take on board Mr O Dowd said:

"Seven key priority areas in which a coordinated effort on a cross-departmental basis should be made to prevent childhood obesity are:

  • Healthier Schools
  • A Physically Active Community
  • Support for Parents
  • Health Child and Out-of-School Care
  • Greater Community Understanding
  • Increased Research and Knowledge
  • Increased Regulation of the Food and Drinks Manufacturing Industries
  • Any action plan developed by the Taskforce on Obesity must:
  • Increase healthy nutrition, increase physical activity and decrease sedentary living to prevent childhood obesity
  • Provide an effective, high quality range of programmes, services and infrastructure to increase healthy nutrition, increase physical activity and decrease sedentary living
  • Achieve clearly defined social, health, and economic targets

Concluding Mr O Dowd said:

"A comprehensive strategy aimed at combating obesity should also consider the negative impact which television and other mass media advertising of unhealthy sugar rich foods and drinks has on children and young people when making lifestyle choices. It is our view that such advertising is limited in the same manner as has occurred with the advertising of alcohol and tobacco products.

"Likewise, we believe the Food Safety Promotion Board on obesity must also be equipped with the ability to influence and bring about speedy and effective regulatory and legislative change in relation to packaging and labelling of foods and drinks, particularly those aimed specifically at children and young people." ENDS

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