Tuesday 21 May 2019

Real Health Podcast: 'Winning the prize for the world’s fattest nation is not where we need to be’ - Health Minister, Simon Harris

Karl Henry pictured with Simon Harris, Minister for Health
Karl Henry pictured with Simon Harris, Minister for Health
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

Simon Harris, Minister for Health, joined me for a special pre-Christmas interview to discuss the health problems of the nation as well as talking about his own need for balance and healthy living to cope with the demands of being a government minister.

I was fascinated to find out how, at such a young age, he got involved in politics and then was appointed to one of the most challenging ministerial roles in the Department of Health in 2016.

As he and his wife expect their first baby in early January 2019, Simon Harris will be trying to juggle a young family, work and keeping fit and healthy, and it’s a balancing act that he knows is a tough one for families all over Ireland.

We also spoke about how the pictures of Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau, out jogging in the Phoenix Park, is the new image to portray for Ireland, of being active and being conscious of healthy living.

The growing obesity problem is of course one of his biggest concerns, with 60% of adults and one in four children in Ireland either overweight or obese and he wants communities in every county to ask what they can do.

“People can accuse me of ‘nanny-ism’ if they want, but what are we going to do as a society to actually to put in place policies to stop us becoming one of the fattest nations in the world?” he says.  “It should be a cause of concern to every single one of us...Winning the prize for the world’s fattest nation is not where we need to be.”

2019 promises to be a busy year for the Minister, between fatherhood and focusing on new policies such as a new hospital food plan, enacting the Public Health Alcohol Bill and continue putting an emphasis on people protecting their own health.

“Why should we be afraid of giving citizens as much information as possible in relation to their own health and well-being to make their own decisions?” he asks and I couldn’t agree more. 

Healthy living starts with every one of us making choices and small changes which make a big difference to our lives.

Keep sending your questions in to me via email realhealth@independent.ie or contact Karl on Twitter and Instagram @karlhenryPT.

The Real Health podcast with Karl Henry in association with Laya Healthcare.

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