Press Release

Seán Power TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children addresses the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Counteracting Obesity

To address the growing challenge posed by the epidemic of obesity to health, economies and development, Ministers and delegates attending the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Counteracting Obesity (Istanbul, Turkey, 15–17 November 2006) will tomorrow, in the presence of the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, Markos Kyprianou, adopt a European Charter on Counteracting Obesity.

Minister Sean Power T.D., Minister for State with responsibility for Health Promotion, Department of Health & Children, attending and presenting at the Conference. Minister Power welcomed the Charter, saying that it will strengthen high level political commitment at national and international level.

Minister Power outlined Ireland’s response to the obesity problem to the Conference delegates. He pointed out that Ireland, in common with other European countries, faced the growing prevalence of obesity in its population with an estimated 39% of adults overweight of which 18% are obese. In the case of children aged 5 to 12 years, 10% are estimated to be obese.

In his presentation Minister Power pointed out that Ireland was one of a few countries with a National Obesity Strategy, which was published in May 2005. Following on from that report, the Department had provided initial additional funding of €3 million. This had facilitated the recruitment of additional community dietitians and physical activity co-ordinators and improvement of hospital treatment facilities

Ireland will proceed to implement the recommendations of the Task Force on Obesity. The Department hopes to bring forward proposals shortly for inter-sectoral working to address the main underlying causes of obesity and indeed other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, namely poor diet and lack of physical activity. The Department is also finalising a National Nutrition Policy which will focus on children and young people and address both obesity and food poverty.