safefood in partnership with the Department of Health and Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland (NI); and Healthy Ireland, Health Service Executive and Department of Health in the Republic of Ireland (ROI) launched a new 5-year public awareness campaign aimed at maintaining a healthy weight in children across the island of Ireland.
“START” - was launched by the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister for State Catherine Byrne TD in the Republic of Ireland. In Northern Ireland the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride launched it saying “Unhealthy lifestyle behaviours have become commonplace in our society and these are impacting negatively on our children’s health. This campaign aligns with our Fitter Future for All Framework 2012-2022, whose overall aim is to empower the population of Northern Ireland to make healthy choices, reduce the risk of overweight and obesity-related diseases and improve health and well-being, by creating an environment that supports a physically active lifestyle and a healthy diet.”
The campaign has been developed with the input of parents, health professionals and community leaders. The ‘START’ campaign messages have been created to help parents get started and build momentum by achieving one daily win for example adding more vegetables to dinner time, swapping sugary drinks for water. Reflecting the partners involved in the campaign, the broader ‘START’ campaign is underpinned by ‘A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016 – 2025’ in the Republic of Ireland and is designed around four key themes to deliver a system-wide approach to tackling overweight and obesity.
1. Providing families with practical advice and support to help build their confidence in making positive changes to their lives include video, online and social content covering food, making changes and physical activity.
2. Delivering a consistent approach across all relevant sectors including schools, crèches, hospitals and GP surgeries by integrating the campaign with existing programmes such as the HSE’s Making Every Contact Count.
3. Supporting sustainable communities and tapping into existing community health programmes like Community Food Initiatives.
4. Tackling the obesogenic environment as a driver for change through key policy initiatives such as the new healthy eating standards for state-funded school meals and the sugar tax.