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Olympic champ says that Irish aren't obese

IRISH Olympic champion Ronnie Delany has expressed his opposition to screening for childhood obesity in schools.

Mr Delany (inset) said he doesn't believe Ireland has a severe obesity problem and that young people can be "extremely fit" despite their appearances suggesting they are overweight.

"I wouldn't be a great supporter of the concept of the Irish being obese. Now, the stats may tell me differently. I have 15 grandchildren, they're not obese," Mr Delany (80) said.

"I think there is a natural body mass, a natural body shape, and you can be extremely fit while you mightn't look fit," he added.

Mr Delany, who won track gold in Melbourne in 1956, told the Herald that he is not in favour of the concept of screening children for obesity.

He said children are living in a "new world" and should not necessarily be pushed into sport, but should also consider arts, education and music.

Mr Delany was commenting at the annual 1848 famine walk in Ballingarry, Co Tipperary, and gave an address about the impact of emigration.

In other remarks, he said that he'd be a "multi-multi millionaire" if he was an Olympian today.

"There was no money in sport then. I remained an amateur all my life," he said.

"I wasn't going to make millions because I was a great athlete, I had to get on and make a career in business and that's because I retired at 26."