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Rate of childhood obesity in Ireland will likely rise without State intervention – Clifford-Lee

- Every parent must set an example and take responsibility to encourage children to make healthy choices -

Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has said it is crucial that greater resources are targeted at lower socioeconomic schools and communities in an effort to prevent any further rise in the prevalence of childhood obesity in Ireland.

The findings of the ERSI study, Growing Up in Ireland published yesterday indicate that 22% of the 7,563 children studied are above what is normal weight for their age. Researchers also found that just 25% were doing the recommended 60 minutes of exercise each day.

Commenting on the findings, Senator Clifford-Lee said, “These latest findings give us a brief snapshot of children under a number of indicators but it is clear from this study that going forward Ireland has a major public health challenge to overcome.

“The ESRI, Growing up in Ireland study has revealed once again this year that children’s weight varies considerably in accordance with socio-economic status. Over 30% of the children that are overweight and obese in Ireland come from the lowest income families; more than double the 14% of which are in the highest income families.

“Greater effort immediately needs to be applied by the State to prevent obesity as well as related diseases among children from lower socio economic backgrounds.

“Fianna Fáil are are committed to expanding the School Meals Programme to reach children from disadvantaged backgrounds attending non-DEIS schools. Putting in place a national taskforce to monitor progress on this issue is also essential.

“That said, every parent must set an example and take responsibility to encourage children to make healthy choices that continue on into adolescence. Any long-term solution to childhood obesity must involve the promotion of physical exercise and tougher restrictions on the advertising of high fat, high salt and high saturated fat foods which specifically target young children.

“Addressing the gap between less advantaged children and those that are from higher income backgrounds must quickly become a priority for this Government.”

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