Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Welcome moves to tackle obesity

16 March, 2007

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has welcomed plans by The Department of Health who pledged to do more in the next year to support parents in encouraging healthy eating and physical activity.

Ms Anderson said:

"This move by the Department of Health is a welcome one, over the next twelve months they plan to tackle obesity by helping parents recognise the warning signs that their children are overweight. They have also set a target of halting the yearly rise in rates of obesity in the under-11s by 2010.

"Modern day busy lifestyles, irregular working hours and fears that having a healthy lifestyle is too difficult to achieve puts people off healthy choices. This is creating major barriers and preventing families from adopting healthy lifestyles even though they knew the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, we need to stop that trend.

"While there have been some changes to the regulations around the TV advertising of Junk food 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.

"Sinn Féin shares 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." ENDS

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