Wednesday 18 July 2018

'33 per cent of Irish adults will be obese in eight years' - obesity experts

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Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Some 33 per cent of Irish adults will be obese by 2025, and this will be at an annual cost to the State of €2.1bn a year.

The Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition & Metabolism (IrSPEN) and the Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland (ASOI), have made the predictions based on current data.

Obesity is already recognised as one of Ireland’s most serious public health challenges, affecting over one million people nationwide with an annual cost of €1.13 billion each year.

Approximately one in 20 adults have an obesity-related disease such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, many types of cancer, sleep apnoea or subfertility which will improve if they can lose and sustain a 10% reduction in their body weight.

Parents can be influential in reducing Ireland’s obesity epidemic among teenagers, and prevent adult obesity, Dr Grace O’Malley, chair of the ASOI said.

Minimising screen time for teenagers, increasing their sleep time, and minimising the amount of lunch money teenagers are given, are all helpful ways to tackle Ireland’s obesity crisis.

“Part of growing older and becoming an adolescent is developing independence and autonomy.”

But she added: “Making the right decisions can be difficult if you’re vulnerable to advertising and marketing. That’s why it’s really important to limit screen time.”

“If you’re reducing screen time, you’re reducing exposure to advertisements for energy-dense foods.”

World Obesity Day takes place next Wednesday, October 11.

Obesity is already recognised as one of Ireland’s most serious public health challenges, affecting over one million people nationwide with an annual cost of €1.13 billion each year.

Approximately one in 20 adults have an obesity-related disease such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, many types of cancer, sleep apnoea or subfertility which will improve if they can lose and sustain a 10pc reduction in their body weight.

IrSPEN and the ASOI are highlighting the need to establish a national obesity treatment programme to improve the health of people with THESE obesity-related diseases.

Dr O’Malley insists that there is no one culprit for causing Ireland’s obesity epidemic among children and teenagers.

But the Safe Food website, the HSE website, and the Change4Life website in the UK are good reference points for healthy eating tips online, she said.

“For the younger children and teenagers as well, the home environment has to be safe. If a child had an allergy then you wouldn’t fill the home with cat hairs. If the child has a propensity to eat sweet foods, you need to have a safe home, and make sure the foods in the home are healthy.”

“Physical activity is way too low compared to what it needs to be… 30pc of children aren’t reaching their physical activity needs every day.”

“Sleep is another huge issue. For children who don’t sleep enough, they’ve a bigger appetite, they crave more sugary foods.”

“One of the things parents could do is get their children to sleep a bit more. Turning off all tablets and screens an hour before bed, and then allowing enough sleep would help.”

Increasing water intake, no sugary cereals for breakfast, a healthy lunch, two healthy snacks and a healthy dinner are all key, she said.

“If possible, for teenagers, have them make a lunch for school. When we tend to have money in school we tend to buy the less healthy foods like in a petrol station or a vending machine. For teenagers, it literally means not going into a shop to buy food.”

“Focus on something they’d like to save for, and really think about not giving that food for a corporate food company, and saving for something like a music festival, or something you’d really like to go to.”

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