Ireland has lowest level of public treatment for obesity in the EU

‘Those who cannot afford to pay have significantly less access to obesity treatment’

One in four adults in Ireland are now classed as obese and one in four children are overweight. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

One in four adults in Ireland are now classed as obese and one in four children are overweight. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

 

The Health Service Executive is paying out “much more” to deal with complications from obesity because it doesn’t fully recognise the condition as a treatable disease in the first place, doctors and nutritionists have said.

Professor Carel le Roux, head of pathology at UCD and spokesman for the Irish Society of Nutrition and Metabolism (IrSPEN), said Ireland had the lowest level of public treatment for obesity in the EU.

Proven treatments for obesity should be made universally available, he added.

One in four adults in Ireland are now classed as obese and one in four children are overweight.

“With effective treatment the burden of this chronic disease can be reversed in a similar way as has been achieved with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” said Mr le Roux.

“We have the cost-effective tools and the know-how to do this, all we need is a change of policy from the HSE coming into line with other healthcare systems across Europe.”

Speaking on World Obesity Day, Mr le Roux said: “Those who cannot afford to pay privately have significantly less access to obesity treatment.

“Proven treatments, both surgery and cost-effective medicines, should be available to all based upon need.

“By not providing treatments, the HSE ends up paying much more for the long-term complications of obesity.”

Me le Roux said existing “eat less and move more” public awareness campaigns are important as prevention strategies “but once someone is obese then this is ineffective for them.”