Saturday 1 October 2016

Eilish O'Regan: Monday morning diet feel to obesity plan

Published 23/09/2016 | 02:30

'The Government’s obesity plan is a bit like a Monday morning diet.' Photo: Colin O'Riordan
'The Government’s obesity plan is a bit like a Monday morning diet.' Photo: Colin O'Riordan

The Government's obesity plan, which has to save us from becoming the fattest nation in Europe, is a bit like a Monday morning diet.

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We start out with the best of intentions but risk falling off the wagon when hunger pangs or some sweet temptation undermine our willpower.

The obesity plan has the same touch of desperate hope about it.

But will it get us off the couch, eating smaller portions and free from the lifestyle that has pushed so many past the danger zone?

The problem with the plan is that is still very woolly, despite setting timelines for its various actions.

It's still not clear how these actions will become a reality.

For instance, it says that it wants to develop guidelines to reduce sedentary levels in the population by 2020.

Definitely easier said than done, given the numerous surveys showing the number of adults who are doing little or no exercise.

There is no mention of how much the sugar tax on fizzy drinks will be or how it will be calculated.

How much of it will be ploughed back into health promotion?

Much of its aims in relation to reducing salt, sugar, and fat in foods rely on food manufacturers and voluntary codes.

Its language also includes dreaded cliches like "top-down" actions and "bottom-up" approaches.

In truth, the question must be asked how much can the State really do to encourage or persuade people to give up ingrained unhealthy habits.

The key formula is basic: eat more healthily, exercise more. But it comes back to individual discipline.

The obesity plan has to work. Even if the modest weight loss targets set out in the plan are met, the state of our waistlines will continue to leave too many at risk of preventable illnesses.

Irish Independent

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