Minister Wallace launches report of Intersectoral Group on Obesity

17 April 2009

Ms Mary Wallace, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with special responsibility for Health Promotion and Food Safety today, (17th April, 2009), launched a report of the intersectoral group reflecting the progress and developments made in the implementation of the recommendations of the National Taskforce on Obesity since its publication in 2005.

The Group, established by the Minister in December, 2008, comprises representatives of all stakeholders, including experts from Government Department and agencies, the food industry, and relevant NGOs.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister pointed to the fact that the most recent Survey of Lifestyles, Attitude and Nutrition or SLAN 2007 Report, indicates that 38% of the population is overweight and a further 23% are obese. Therefore, 61% of the population are either overweight or obese. Of particular concern, was the increasing levels of obesity in children. Recent research reveals that 26% of 7-year old girls and 18% of 7-year old boys are overweight or obese.

It is estimated that obesity is responsible for around 2,000 premature deaths in Ireland each year. The indirect cost of obesity in Ireland is estimated at €0.4billion, per annum. “The importance of halting the rise in obesity is therefore critical.”said the Minister

While the report pointed to significant progress in the implementation of the Taskforce’s recommendations, Minister Wallace said “we must re-double our efforts to row back the rising tide of overweight and obesity. It is not going to be an easy task, involving as it does, changing our own and especially our children’s attitudes and behaviour in relation to eating patterns and levels of physical activity. We must continue to work to making it easier for people to make the healthy choices required for them to take better care of themselves and to lead healthy lives, to literally invest in themselves and their futures.

The HSE welcomes the progress outlined in the report. The HSE will continue to work with all sectors to improve and promote the health of our population through promoting and supporting healthy eating and physical activity and addressing the environmental, social and economic factors that contribute to overweight and obesity.

The Minister thanked the members of the Intersectoral Group for their significant input in compiling the report.

Read the Report