Press Release

Minister Varadkar publishes Obesity Policy Consultation Report

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has published a Consultation Report on Obesity which reflects the views of various stakeholders on how best to develop an Obesity Policy and Action Plan in this area. The Report was prepared for the Department of Health by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland who also facilitated the Consultation event.

The recommendations in the consultation report are being considered by the Department and the Chief Medical Officer as they develop the forthcoming Obesity Policy and Action Plan.

Earlier this year, the IPH on behalf of the Department of Health facilitated a consultation event on obesity and invited stakeholders to set out their views and opinions on the best possible approaches to address overweight and obesity in Ireland.

The stakeholders represented Government Departments, county councils, health service specialists and providers, the food industry, sporting & leisure industries, advertisers and members of Healthy Ireland Council.

Ireland is in the grip of an overweight and obesity epidemic. Health information data from Growing Up in Ireland, Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative and many other sources confirm that nearly two out of every three adults and one in four of Irish children are either overweight or obese. The World Health Organisation has predicted that this trend will increase unless action is taken. Overweight and obesity cause or are associated with numerous health issues and problems. It is leading to an unsustainable increase in chronic diseases. Furthermore, the cost of obesity in Ireland is estimated to be €1.13 Billion per annum. The causes of overweight and obesity are numerous and complex.

Therefore, the solutions are not easy and require a whole of Government and a whole of society policy and action plan.

Attendees at the conference were given a specially prepared consultation document which identified issues and proposed options based on best available evidence. It also posed questions seeking their expert view in finding solutions.

Minister Varadkar said: “This report gives us quality information on what Ireland needs to do to reverse the trends of overweight and obesity. Its recommendations form the starting point for developing the new Obesity Policy and Action Plan which will be stronger as a result. It’s particularly gratifying to see all the stakeholders agreeing that we all have a role and that we can succeed by working together.”

Commenting on the consultation Dr Tony Holohan, CMO, said: “The report, in its analysis, has enumerated the most effective and more sustainable actions that can be taken by government, statutory and other sectors, communities and individuals. The main messages are to act now and to do it together in a planned and coordinated way. The forthcoming Obesity Policy and Action Plan is a key element of the work of Healthy Ireland”.

Dr John Devlin, Chair of the Special Action Group on Obesity, continued: “Whilst the health services will continue to do their best for the prevention, care and treatment of overweight and obesity, it is well recognised that this alone will only have limited impact. All individuals, communities and sectors of society have a role and responsibility in this regard”.

Ends

For editors

The consultation with over 100 stakeholders was held on the 27th of April 2015. The report describes the views of those who attended on various options that were presented to them in a ‘consultation document’. Participants stated what every sector should do and gave their own top priorities for that sector

A second consultation process involving children is underway with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA). This relates to DCYA’s Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures – the national policy framework for children and young people 2014- 2020. DCYA have been invited to consider the feasibility of conducting a discrete consultation with young people in light of the commitments made under Outcome 1 of Better Outcomes, Brighter Future as well as best practice including the voices of children in policy matters which affect them. A report is expected in November.

A further Consultation day was held with Health Care Professionals and providers. The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) was asked by DOH to host a meeting of representatives from key clinical and health care providers involved in the primary, secondary and tertiary care of adult and child patients, as well as major health providers who work independently of the HSE. This is considering a model of care and clinical pathways for the screening and management of overweight and obesity. The RCPI report will be available in October.

The forthcoming Obesity Policy and Action Plan will incorporate the key priorities that emerge from these consultation events.

The Obesity Policy Consultation Report can be viewed here.