The Government has shown a ‘marked lack of urgency’ when it comes to implementing policies aimed at reducing overweight and obesity in children.
In a statement to mark the first anniversary of the Government’s obesity policy and action plan, A Healthy Weight for Ireland, Janis Morrissey Irish Heart’s Health Promotion Manager said:
“We have to stop tinkering around the edges of the obesity crisis and implement decisive policies that can make a difference. Already we have children as young as eight with high blood pressure and young people displaying the early signs of heart disease that in the past were rarely seen until middle age.”
The Ten Steps Forward action plan contained in the national policy has virtually “stood still”
A Healthy Weight for Ireland a contained 10-step action programme, ‘Ten Steps Forward’.
However, according to Ms Morrissey, little progress has been made in implementing these steps, apart from the recent appointment of Prof Donal O’Shea as the national clinical lead for obesity, and measures already agreed before the launch, such as the introduction of a sugar-sweetened drinks tax in 2018.
“No implementation oversight group has even been appointed yet, let alone the promised delivery of the first annual evaluation of progress under the plan. As usual there is plenty being said about what is going to be done, but very little action,” Ms Morrissey said.
Areas which have seen little or no progress include:
-The introduction of mandatory calorie posting on menus
-Tacking the causal link between the marketing of junk food to children and child obesity, particularly by the regulation of digital marketing
-Developing a whole-of-school approach to tackling obesity, especially the proliferation of unhealthy food on school campuses and improving areas of the curriculum.
-Tackling the obesogenic environment through measures such as the introduction of no fry zones.
-Targeting resources in disadvantaged areas where obesity levels are highest.
“Despite the huge threat of young people developing early risks for heart disease, we believe there is a continuing lack of political will across Government to take the action necessary to reduce obesity levels.
“The longer this continues the more of the current generation of children will be condemned to lives dominated by ill health, chronic disease and, ultimately, premature death,” Ms Morrissey added.
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