A US MEDICAL expert has expressed his concern at the amount of overweight people in Ireland – saying it isn’t too far behind the US when it comes to obesity.
Prof John E Lewis, PhD, is associate director of the Medical Wellness Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Prof Lewis said that Ireland is “not far behind the US”, with 60 per cent of Irish adults overweight or obese.
He made the comments as Safefood launched its latest campaign aimed at tackling childhood obesity.
According to Prof Lewis:
Ireland is already not far behind America, so I would be very concerned. The overweight/obesity crisis is a global, not just a US, problem. If Ireland is the 7th most obese country in the world, I believe it would be difficult to move out of the top 10 with any strategy in less than 24 months. Getting a large enough percentage of the population to lose weight that rapidly would probably be very challenging.
The 2011 Growing Up in Ireland study showed that one in four children - as young as three years of age – is overweight or obese.
The Miami Professor said: “I would not say that the situation is already lost, but efforts to emphasise proper nutrition and daily physical activity are urgently needed.”
Prof Lewis and his team in Miami recently concluded a study on tackling obesity by identifying food intolerances or hidden food sensitivities.
Tackling obesity in Ireland
Safefood’s public health campaign is aimed at helping parents to tackle childhood obesity, and will involve extensive advertising. It also includes a free booklet for parents that will be available from locations such as creches and GP surgeries.
The Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, said that obesity “presents a real clinical, social and financial challenge which will have a detrimental legacy lasting decades”.
Parents told Safefood they wanted a ‘solutions-based approach’ to tackling their children’s weight. Due to this, the first phase of the campaign involves focusing on reducing portion sizes for children, replacing sugary drinks with water and “being realistic” about ‘treat foods’.
Parents are being encouraged to find out the sugar content in juice drinks and cordials which research shows are regularly given to children at mealtimes.
For more on the practical tips offered to parents, see the Safefood website.