Date Published: 16 June 2010

Partnership key to addressing obesity in young people

Health News from Ireland (Eire)
Healthy Food - Fresh Fruit for good nutrition.

Workshop highlights island of Ireland and European approaches at tackling obesity

On the 15th June 2010 safefood and the All-island Obesity Action forum hosted a workshop that looked at a European model in use for tackling obesity in young people and specifically, the experiences of the EPODE European Network (France) which adopted a partnership approach to addressing this serious public health issue. At present, approximately one in five boys and one in four girls starting primary school are classified as being overweight or obese.

By fostering a partnership approach on an all island basis and creating channels for co-operation, safefood and the All-island Obesity Action Forum see the immediate need for enhanced and new partnerships for dealing with the increasing levels of obesity and to be inspired by the experiences and learning of others in this field.

The keynote address at the event was given by Christophe Roy, Deputy Director of the EPODE European Network, France.

A multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral sustained approach is needed at national and local level to make the difference in preventing childhood overweight and obesity”, said Mr. Roy.

It is internationally recognised that all those involved, from the food industry to health agencies, to schools and parents must work together in tackling current obesity levels in children. Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health and Nutrition, safefood said.

Statistics tell us that on the island of Ireland, children are getting heavier on a yearly basis. We know that unfortunately, overweight and obese children are at a greater risk of becoming obese adults e.g. the risk of an obese 4 year old becoming an obese adult is four times that of a normal weight child. As a society, we must act together to protect our children from the health risks of diabetes, colon cancer and heart disease in early adulthood that are all real dangers for overweight and obese children. The EPODE type of approach seems helpful and we must borrow from other’s help and experiences

Commenting on the workshop Martin Higgins, Chief Executive, safefood, said

We are delighted to have Christophe with us to share the European experience of tackling obesity and the role that partnership can play, particularly for children’s health. I believe that continued collaboration between industry, health professionals and consumers can help in the fight against obesity. The obesity forum provides an ideal platform for joined-up thinking and action on the island of Ireland. As an agency with a remit across two jurisdictions, safefood realises the value of partnership in tackling the issue of obesity”.

Attended by a cross section of key stakeholders in physical activity, food and other obesity related areas, the workshop event also included roundtable discussions, Q&A sessions and networking opportunities. Key speakers on the day included:-

  • Ms. Claire McGinley, Project Manager, Cooperation & Working Together
  • Mr. Seamus Mullen, Assistant Investing for Health Manager, PHA
  • Dr. Marian Faughnan, Chief Specialist in Nutrition, safefood
  • Ms. Corina Glennon, Community Dietitian Manager, HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster

The All-island Obesity Action Forum comprises of a range of stakeholders including government departments, health agencies, professional bodies, stakeholders working in the field of public health and academic and industry representatives. The forum includes representation from stakeholders with a remit in both healthy eating and physical activity to maximise cohesion. A major function of this group is to identify common action areas in the obesity reduction policies in both Northern Ireland (NI) and Republic of Ireland (ROI) and to facilitate the exchange of good practice and promote networking on the island of island. The forum is facilitated and supported by safefood.


Source: safeFood (Ireland).

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