Monday 11 December 2017

Comment: Class divide in children's physical health statistics

Eilish O'regan

THE slight drop in the number of overweight and obese seven-year-olds provides a glimmer of hope, but is it too early to say if it is a significant trend.

More surveillance is needed to find out if the healthy living messages are having a knock-on effect on the rising generation.

We are still not able to say if the country is heading in the right direction, or whether this just represents a small statistical blip.

What is clearer is that there is a class divide when it comes to obesity rates – with children from poorer homes seeing a negligible drop in rates overall.

The obesity crisis does not want for analysis – the nation's expanding waistline has coincided with a multiplicity of reports, strategies and national plans of various sorts.

Several proposed solutions such as the sugar tax on fizzy drinks and a compulsory reduction in sweets and crisps in school vending machines have failed to materialise.

Although several practical and helpful initiatives are in place, hospital doctors point to the continuing long waiting lists for children and adults who suffer from obesity who need a specialist appointment.

When prevention fails, access to treatment remains difficult for too many people. This indicates the continuing lack of priority given to the problem of obesity, despite the recognition of its personal and financial cost.

Irish Independent

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