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State should do more but parents are key to tackling obesity

ONE in four primary school children in Ireland is either overweight or obese, according to a new survey. It's a scary statistic, but one easily verified by the evidence of one's own eyes outside the nation's school gates. According to dietician Richelle Flanagan, of the Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute: "Seventy three per cent of the country doesn't have access to a child obesity programme and 88pc of the country doesn't have access to a group intervention programme when kids are already obese.

"We are urgently calling on the Government to devise a childhood obesity strategy and implementation plan."

Yesterday marked the launch of Nourish Children Week, which focuses on the lack of HSE childhood obesity services.

Ms Flanagan is indeed right to seek more focused involvement from the HSE, because spending money on these problems now will save money in the future. Fit people cost the health services less, so it makes economic as well as medical sense.

While the State should and could do more in this regard, we must remember too that government can't do everything for us. And in these times of economic hardship it is unlikely it will be able to do more any time soon.

So while there are many causes and reasons for obesity, personal responsibility must be a factor too. Healthy eating is commonsense and while we can't expect children to make sensible choices, we can expect their parents to do so.

Irish Independent