Doctors seek anti-obesity measures

The team behind RTE's Operation Transformation programme have proposed seven basic lifestyle changes to counter obesity and increase people's fitness.

The team behind RTE's Operation Transformation programme have proposed seven basic lifestyle changes to counter obesity and increase people's fitness.

Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 00:00

The team behind RTÉ’s Operation Transformation programme have proposed seven basic lifestyle changes to counter obesity and increase people’s fitness.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Health Committee this morning, Dr Eva Orsmond, Dr Eddie Murphy and Karl Henry proposed:

- children should be weighed at school at least once a year in order to increase awareness of the importance of weight. Adults should be weighed when they go to the GP or for a hospital appointment

- children are being encouraged to take 15,000 steps a day

- fruits should be displayed at supermarket checkouts instead of sweets, chocolate and sugared drinks

- young people should be taught how to cook five simple meals at school. Food education should be a compulsory part of the curriculum

- one extra hour of physical education should be provided for national schools students each week. The current allocation is one hour a week.

- extra points should be given at the Leaving Certificate for being fit

- cafes and restaurants should provide information on the calorie content of the meals they serve at the point of sale

Dr Murphy, a psychologist, said it was increasingly difficult to be a normal weight child in Ireland today. People needed to be nudged into making healthier choices.

Dr Orsmond said weighing scales need to become part of our daily life. People needed to become aware of the link between excess weight and chronic illness, as this increased the opportunity for early intervention. By reversing only 10 per cent of diabetes cases, over €145 million could be saved from the health budget.

Ireland had a culture of relying on medication for every ailment and many doctors were too quick to prescribe drugs, she said. Many dieticians and nutritionists were misinformed because the guidelines on weight loss were out of date.

Fine Gael TD Catherine Byrne said parents had to play a greater role in managing their children’s weight rather than relying on “outside influences” such as the Operation Transformation programme.

Independent TD Denis Naughton said this generation of children would be the first to have a lower life expectancy than their parents had. Obesity was costing the State €5,700 a minute, he pointed out.

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