A Public Health (Obesity) Act

Programme for Government Commitment to Reducing Obesity

In February 2020 the newly elected Government committed to addressing obesity in Ireland with a Public Health (Obesity) Act including restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

Measures such as the imposition of the Sugar Sweetened Drinks Tax; the appointment of Prof Donal O’Shea as the national clinical lead for obesity; and the launch of healthy eating standards under the school meals programme are all highly significant and very much welcomed.

However more progress is needed 

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs recommended in November 2018 the Government should establish “clear targets” for reducing socio-economic inequalities in childhood obesity. It also wants the Government to fund obesity-related research to better identify “obesity hotspots.”

Among the report’s 20 recommendations were: 

The cost of obesity 

An in-depth review of evidence on obesity and food poverty in Ireland carried out by the Irish Heart Foundation and Social Justice Ireland in 2015 revealed that the annual cost burden of obesity could rise from €1.3 billion by €5.4 billion by 2030.  

Read the full Irish Heart Foundation / Social Justice Ireland report. 

The Irish Heart Foundation’s Childhood Obesity Manifesto advocates that a portion of the proceeds from the sugar and sweetened drinks tax should be used to provide a regular funding stream for anti-obesity measures under Healthy Ireland or through a dedicated Children’s Future Fund. 

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