Irish Children Fattest in Europe!!

Last weeks Irish Times (2nd of April)  reported on the current extremely high childhood obesity levels in Ireland and the implications this is having and will have for our society and our health system. For some time now we have been writing to policy makers all over Ireland with respect to inevitable consequences of Ireland’s high level of car dependeny and sedentary lifestyles as a result of of our highly dispersed settlement pattern, suburbanisation and ex-urbanisation. 
 
In 2005 the National Obesity Taskforce made a range of recommendations for Government, the health and education sectors, planners and the food industry to implement policies to curb the dramatic year-on-year increases in obesity in Irish society. A key recommendation of the Taskforce is that planning policies must be proactive and encourage spontaneous increases in physical activity in adults and children and deliver environments that support healthy food choices and regular physical activity including adequate walkways and amenities, and ensure public transport provision is explicit in the planning process. The achievement of this objective is currently impossible in Ireland and is becoming increasingly more impossible as we continue to fail to implement sustainable land-use planning policies. More worryingly, research also shows 26 per cent of seven-year-old girls and 18 per cent of boys are overweight or obese.  
Ireland has amongst the highest rates of obesity in the western world and in many studies we are second only the USA. Obesity is a ‘symptom of society’ and is a direct result of a sedentary lifestyle. As a result, over half the Irish population is at an increased risk of developing a chronic health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer unless we make it easier for people to address their activity habits.Obesity is blamed for an estimated 2,000 premature deaths in Ireland each year, while the indirect cost is estimated at €400 million.Indeed, the Irish environment has been called ‘obesegenic’ by a principal investigator in an international study on childhood obesity.
 
The National Heart Alliance and Irish Heart Foundation are launching their position paper on Physical Activity, Young People and the Physical Environment on the 14 April, Orion Suite, Clarion Hotel, IFSC Dublin 1. A full agenda is available here. The conference aims to demonstrate the critical importance that proper land-use planning plays in protecting the long-term health of society and how we can create a physical environment with positive impacts on health.

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