A Healthy Weight for Ireland
Figures from the recently published A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan Ireland (2016 – 2025) state that 1 in 4 children and 6 in 10 adults are overweight or obese. Such figures, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), indicate that Ireland is set to have the highest prevalence of obesity in Europe by 2030.
Overweight and obesity are clinically defined as body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 kg/m2 and 30 kg/m2, respectively (use our handy calculator to quickly assess your own BMI - https://www.healthpro.ie/bmi-calculator). Chronic overweight and obesity increases risk factors for several serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and specific cancers such as those of the bowel (WHO, 2016). In Ireland, obesity is estimated to cost the state over €1 billion each year (Department of Health 2016). The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has said: "Rising levels of overweight and obesity are placing an increasing burden on individuals and society and this represents one of the biggest public health challenges Ireland is facing today. Government can, and must, help to empower people to make these healthy choices'. To achieve this aim, Minister Harris has stated that government will support a series of measures, with the aforementioned A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan for Ireland (2016 – 2025) detailing interventions such as;
- A national nutrition policy
- A clinical lead for obesity in the HSE
- Targeted health promotion initiatives in disadvantaged areas
- Workplace wellbeing
- No fry zones
- Increased product choice for the consumer
- Food product reformulation
- Nutrition labelling
- Calorie posting legislation
The latter aim is supported by The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), who, in their ‘Calories on Menus in Ireland - a Report on a National Consultation’ (2013) found that a majority of people surveyed wished to have calorie information more readily available when eating outside of the home. Interestingly, the report also showed that consumers made lower calorie choices when such information was available and that calorie posting creates a demand for healthier options, including smaller portion sizes. According to the IUNA 2011 report 18-64 year olds consume 24% of their daily energy requirement outside the home. The food service sector could help in the obesity epidemic through mandatory menu labelling which would have positive implications for controlling the increase in population obesity.
healthpro’s Menu Mentoring programme, led by our team of nutrition and dietetic experts, has been assisting Irish food businesses with the process of menu labelling since 2009. Our team has helped a diverse range of food providers including restaurants, hotels, cafes, bars, fast food and retail outlets to be market leaders and advocates for public health by providing their customers with accurate nutritional information, including calories.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland published a report ‘Calories on Menus in Ireland- a Report on a National Consultation’ (2013), the report found that Consumers who report using calorie information (15%) tend to make lower calorie food choices, this could in the long term help obesity. In addition, there is evidence that calorie menu labelling creates a demand for healthier options – including smaller portion sizes. For these reasons, calorie menu labelling has potential to improve the obesity epidemic in Ireland.
healthpro’s Menu Mentoring provides nutritional analysis expertise to a range of food providers including restaurants, hotels, cafes, bars, fast food and retail outlets. Calorie intake is displayed by healthpro symbols, 1 symbol suggesting a snack, 2 a light meal 3 identifying a Main meal 4 signifying Indulgence. This gives consumers allows consumers to make informed decisions about the meals they are eating. healthpro’s Healthy Eating Guide is used to facilitate individuals with their dietary requirements when eating outside of the home.
Looking for advice or more information on obesity? Talk to our expert team today. For customized nutrition services, please contact Dr Alan Kennedy on 00353864119222 or visit www.healthpro.ie to book an appointment with our dietetic team.
Hallissey, M. (2016). Government launches 10-year war on obesity. Available: http://www.businesspost.ie/government-launches-10-year-war-on-obesity/
Safefood.eu. (2016). Obesity. Available: http://www.safefood.eu/Healthy-Eating/Food,-Diet-and-Health/Health/Obesity.aspx. Last accessed 10/10/2016.
Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance. (2011). National Adult Nutritional Survey. [Online] Available at: http://www.iuna.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/National-Adult-Nutrition-Survey-Summary-Report-March-2011.pdf
Department of Health. (2016). Ministers Launch “A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016-2025″. [Online] Available at: http://health.gov.ie/blog/press-release/ministers-launch-a-healthy-weight-for-ireland-obesity-policy-and-action-plan-2016-2025/.
© healthpro / 2016
Published on 24 October 2016 | Back to October Articles