Date Published: 20 May 2017
European Obesity Day 2017
Saturday 20th May is European Obesity Day, 2017.
Safefood, the Irish all-island body for the promotion of awareness and knowledge of food safety and nutrition, has used the opportunity of Obesity Day to call for increased efforts to raise awareness of issues surrounding obesity, while also reducing the stigma associated with it.
Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood said
" We need to accept that obesity is something that people need real help with, not something to be blamed for. By persisting with this stigmatizing notion that obese adults and children are 'different' from everyone else in society, we're being unfair and making things worse – those who need help often avoid health services because of this. Much in the same way as we've moved the conversation from 'mental illness' to 'mental health', so we need to do the same with weight issues and obesity on the island of Ireland."
In tackling the issue of people being overweight and obesity, Dr Foley-Nolan stressed the need for concerted, effective action at all life stages:
" Given the levels of overweight and obesity that we now face, we need sustained, robust action. The many health professionals involved have complimentary roles in this, whether that's treating obesity or the many other diseases impacted by obesity."
In an article on its website, safefood advocated the promotion of healthier lifestyles, such as the availability of healthier snacks in vending machines in schools, colleges and hospitals. It also mentioned the need for a healthier environment that encourages physical activity and reduces the availability of high-calorie food and drinks.
The wider context of this call to help people to reach and maintain healthy body weights without attracting adverse attitudes or responses from others is the broader international situation with regard to health and body size. Safefood stated that the World Health Organisation has estimated that the number of obese Europeans has more than tripled since the 1980s, and that approx. one in three children across Europe aged 6-9 years old are overweight or obese.
There is, of course, also a need for understanding and compassion concerning this and other health issues. Although people are generally aware of medical advice to maintain an appropriate body weight in consideration of the health risks of obesity, it can be difficult for both adults and children to do so while surrounded by many and various temptations to overindulge in unhealthy foods, drinks and lifestyle choices.