I don't believe we're going to be fattest in Europe, says minister
A Minister with responsibility for health has said she does not believe the World Health Organisation (WHO) predictions about Ireland's obesity problems.
Last week new research by the WHO said Ireland was on course to be the fattest country in Europe by 2030.
However, the Minister of State in the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch told a gathering of GPs that she had noted the figures from the WHO, adding: "I don't believe it by the way."
Speaking after the event, the minister stood by her comments, insisting she did not buy into the projections.
"I don't. I think we have a whole range of actions now being put in place. We're very conscious that our children are getting bigger, not just our children but the population in general.
"But we have a whole range of actions now in relation to healthy Ireland that we are putting in place," she said.
Ms Lynch said she viewed the comments from the WHO as a warning, but insisted the necessary action to avoid such an outcome was being taken.
"So I think the World Health Organisation's figures and its warning is a good indicator to ensure we don't get to that point. And you always have to make sure of that. This is a warning, it's in the future and this is what will happen if you take no action, but we are taking action," she said.
"If we take the corrective actions no we won't [reach that point] and we've already started on those actions with Healthy Ireland and all of the different programmes we are putting in place."
The WHO figures show that 85pc of Irish women will be overweight and 57pc obese by 2030.
About 89pc of Irish men will be classified as overweight, with some 48pc obese.
The data, which was presented at the recent European Obesity Congress, would place Irish men at the top of an overweight table of 53 countries alongside Uzbekistan, while Irish women would be the third highest proportion of overweight and obese individuals in Europe by 2030.
Other countries with projected steep rises in obesity over this period include Greece, Spain, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic.
Few countries in the WHO region will be able to stabilise or decrease overweight and obesity rates.
The Netherlands appears to be almost alone in tackling its national weight problem. Fewer than half of Dutch men are predicted to be overweight.