Saturday, 22nd September 2018
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The news that one third of Irish children have been classified as obese must come as a shocking revelation to a majority of Irish people. The statistic was revealed to the Oireachtais as part of an enquiry into the health of Ireland's upcoming generations. The list of probable ailments that Irish children who are obese are storing up for themselves are alarming as well.

At the moment there are children presenting to doctors with fatty livers and incipent onset of Type 2 Diabetes all diseases more commonly found in the middle aged. Now children as young as eight and ten are coming to their doctors with middle aged illnesses which in the long term will significantly reduce their life expectancy. After getting over the statistic of just how poorly our children are doing in terms of health comes the question of what can be done about it.

There has been a lot of talk about banning advertising for junk for children under the age of 16. That is ads for food that are high in sugar, high in salt and high in fat. While this is a good step on the way to reducing the numbers of children who are obese there obviously needs to be a lot more to be done, especially in disadvantaged socio-economic areas where there is a significantly higher proportion of obese children.

There are a lot of different initiatives that can be undertaken which can help to reduce the number of obese children in the country - all of them are valid and any little inroad that helps has to be a good thing.

Schools can play a huge part in the manner in which children approach food. Education is after all a big key in nearly all aspect of a child's life. But when it really comes down to it, it remains the responsibility of the parent to take a more active role in their child's life. A parent is the biggest single influence in any child's life and if a parent can get on board with a good, healthy, positive message then the better it will be. Parents are the ones who are closest to the child and if they have a good influence over the child then the better their health will be. No parent wants to have a sickly, unhealthy child and getting the message to them about healthy ways to eat and healthy approaches to food should be one of the most important things that the Government can do.

Children today live a much more sedentary lifestyle than children of the past and so it is especially important that their diet and approach to exercise reflects this. The introduction of the Scottish initiative to have children run a mile a day at school is a great start and should be picked up by Irish schools. Obviously this is a long term project but if everyone in a child's life - schools, parents and policy makers - can come together then it can be obesity can be something that can be properly tackled.

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