Obesity patients are now younger and heavier
PATIENTS referred to the country's only publicly funded weight management clinic are now more obese and younger than those sent for treatment just two years ago.
But despite the growing obesity crisis, they must wait three to four years before they see a specialist at St Columcille's Hospital in Loughlinstown, Dublin.
A new study shows that the average age of referral is now 43 years while the body mass index (BMI) is 46. A BMI of over 30 is regarded as obese.
The authors of the study, including obesity expert Dr Donal O'Shea, pointed out that Ireland has the fourth-highest prevalence of overweight and obese men in the European Union and the seventh highest among women.
The study comes in the wake of the government decision not to back a sugar tax on fizzy drinks in the Budget, despite support for the move from Health Minister James Reilly.
The authors said they were concerned that fewer men were being sent for treatment despite the fact that men have a greater prevalence of obesity and related illnesses than women.
"It is also worrying that since our last review over two years ago the average age of patients has decreased from 44 to 43 while the average BMI has increased from 44 to 46.
"This equates to approximately a 6kg increase in weight. It is already known that the prevalence of obesity has increased by 67pc overall between 1990 and 2000."
These findings suggest that Irish people are becoming more obese at a younger age.