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Safefood defends its "Stop the Spread" campaign

The anti-obesity campaign has been criticised for being too simplistic, but experts say it can work over time. “Stop the Spread” says that waist size can indicate an obesity problem.

THE DIRECTOR OF Health and Nutrition at Safefood has defended the launch of a campaign called “Stop the Spread”, which aims to highlight the problem of obesity.

Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan has told the Medical Independent that the campaign – which warned people that waist sizes of more than 32 inches for women and 37 inches for men indicated that you might be “in denial” about your weight – was not intended to cause offence.

The campaign cost €450,000, but Nolan says that the indirect cost of obesity in Ireland is estimated at €400 million a year. She says the campaign’s message about encouraging people to measure their waistline is a way of directly addressing a weight problem. Nolan says that while there has been some negative feedback, the campaign will continue. She says the controversy has “made people talk”.

Professor Ivan Perry, Professor of Public Health at UCC says that it will take time to see if the campaign has an impact. He uses anti-smoking campaigns as an example, saying that that it took decades for people to change their attitutudes.

Professor Anthony Staines, from the DCU School of Nursing says that while Ireland doesn’t have a great record of producing effective public health campaigns, they are improving , and that the Stop the Spread campaign is an effective way of getting the public’s attention.

Read more in the Medical Independent: Prevention better than cure>

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