Obesity has high social, environmental and economic costs. Obesity related conditions are affecting our economy and threatening to engulf the health service, but responsibility for tackling it goes far beyond the health sector. IPH welcomed the opportunity to present at a recent (Tuesday 6 June) BMA Northern Ireland meeting to discuss solutions for tackling rising obesity.
Professor Roger O’Sullivan (IPH) discussed recent IPH work and our ongoing commitment to tackling obesity by addressing the complex causes linked to poverty, deprivation and social exclusion. He highlighted the importance of cooperation and benefits of building connections and communities of practice.
Involvement from all sectors as outlined in ‘A fitter future for all – Framework for preventing and addressing overweight and obesity in Northern Ireland 2012-2022' is essential. The Framework lays a path to ensure health targets are met particularly in relation to obesity which contributes to chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer and high blood pressure.
During difficult economic times, inequalities often widen and the burden of obesity is likely to shift towards the less well-off. With food being one of the most discretionary aspects of household budgets, obesity will only get worse unless we take special care to support the most vulnerable.
Selection of IPH work in this area
- Policy and Research support to the DoH (RoI) on the implementation of action A Healthy Weight for Ireland Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016-2025.
- Contributing to DoH (NI) , Obesity Prevention Steering Group and the Regional Obesity Prevention Implementation Group
- Supporting DoH (North and South) on development of evidence on taxation on sugar sweetened drinks (SSD) (eg Proposed SSD Tax Health Impact Assessment - 2012)
- Publishing a snapshot report on patterns of SSD consumption on the island of Ireland.
- Publishing a snapshot report on patterns of breastfeeding patterns on the island of Ireland
- Co-investigator role in safefood lifetime cost of childhood obesity in NI and RoI (as part of EU JANPA – Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity)