For Oral Answer on : 03/12/2021
Question Number(s): 201 Question Reference(s): 59240/21
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Health the measures taken to tackle obesity in the context of the Healthy Ireland Framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
A Healthy Weight for Ireland, the Obesity Policy and Action Plan (OPAP), was launched in September 2016 under the Healthy Ireland Framework. The OPAP covers a 10-year period up to 2025 and aims to reverse obesity trends, prevent health complications and reduce the overall burden for individuals, families, the health system, and the wider society and economy. The Plan recognises that obesity is a complex, multi-faceted problem and needs a multi-pronged solution, with every sector of society playing its part. The OPAP is based on the best available evidence in the Irish and international literature, and is informed by established international models and frameworks.
A Progress Report on the implementation of the actions of the OPAP was published in February 2021. Some of the actions highlighted in the Progress Report, as well as actions completed since its publication, are outlined below.
New Nutrition Standards for School Food, with an initial focus on school meal programmes funded by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, were developed and published in September 2017. New Healthy Eating Guidelines, Healthy Ireland Food Pyramid and supporting Healthy Food for Life resources were published in 2016 and disseminated and communicated in 2017, including to all primary and post-primary schools. Healthy Eating Guidelines for 1-4 Year Olds and a Children’s Food Pyramid were published in October 2020.
A Sugar-Sweetened Drinks Tax was introduced on 1st May 2018. The aim of the tax was to reduce consumption of added sugar in drinks, and to encourage reformulation of products by the drinks industry.
A five-year child obesity communications campaign – “START” -from safefood, the HSE and Healthy Ireland was launched in 2017. It aims to inspire, empower and support parents to start building and persist with healthy lifestyle habits in the family to prevent childhood obesity. The Healthy Ireland fund was also used in 2021 to fund the “Let’s get Set” campaign to encourage people to develop healthy habits including how to eat healthily. Healthy Ireland also partnered with Sport Ireland with the “Let’s Get Back” campaign to encourage people get back to sport and physical activity.
A Healthy Eating, Active Living Programme was established as a Policy Priority Programme within the HSE. The programme supports work in the education sector and works with parents, families and communities in delivering a more co-ordinated approach to prevention and early intervention in child obesity.
A National Clinical Lead for Obesity was appointed in the HSE in 2017, and a Clinical Advisory Group and National Obesity Management Clinical Programme were established. This developed the Model of Care for the Management of Overweight and Obesity, which was published in March 2021.
A Roadmap for Food Product Reformulation in Ireland, which deals with the reduction of levels of saturated fat, sugar and salt in processed foods, has been completed and will be published in December 2021.
A new healthy weight citizen engagement campaign is being developed to be rolled out in 2022. As part of the Sláintecare Healthy Community Programme, 19 Community Food and Nutrition posts will be filled in 2022. The roles will have a particular focus on working with families and children to support them with healthy eating and nutrition within these 19 communities.