Dr Eva Orsmond, Dr Eddie Murphy and Karl Henry spoke at the Oireachtas Health Committee and recommended the following:
- children should be weighed at school at least once a year in order to increase awareness of the importance of weight. Adults should be weighed when they go to the GP or for a hospital appointment
- children are being urged to take 15,000 steps a day
- fruit should be displayed at supermarket checkouts instead of sweets, chocolate and sugared drinks
- young people should be taught how to cook five simple meals at school. Food education should be a compulsory part of the curriculum
- one extra hour of physical education should be provided for national schools students each week bringing it up to a total of 2 hours per week
- extra points should be allocated to the Leaving Certificate for being fit
- cafes and restaurants should give information on the calorie content of the meals they provide
Dr Murphy, a psychologist, said it was more and more difficult to be a normal weight child in Ireland today. People needed to be encouraged into making healthier choices.
Dr Orsmond said weighing ourselves should become part of our daily life. People need to become aware of the link between excess weight and chronic illness, as this would help with early intervention. By reversing a very small, 10 per cent of diabetes cases, over €145 million could be saved from the health budget.
Catherine Byrne, Fine Gael TD said parents had to play a bigger role in managing their children’s weight rather than relying on “outside influences” such as the Operation Transformation programme.
Denis Naughton, an Independent TD said this generation of children would be the first to have a lower life expectancy than their parents. The obesity problem was costing the State €5,700 a minute, he said.