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Irish kids Are The Most Overweight In The EU


Irish kids Are The Most Overweight In The EU

Why are Irish kids overweight?

The Health Minister Leo Varadkar, is concerned about Irish children being overweight or obese.  He says that “losing weight can reduce your blood pressure and your risk of diabetes, so exercise makes as much sense as taking tablets.”  A study shown at the European Congress on Obesity in Prague yesterday indicated that 27% of Irish kids under 5 years old are overweight or obese. By comparison 23% of British children are overweight, Albanian kids are 20% overweight, Bulgarian kids are 19.8% overweight and Spanish kids are 18.4% overweight.  Mr Varadkar, a doctor himself stated he is going to ask G.P’s to prescribe exercise to overweight patients in order to combat the problem.  The World Health Organisation showed in a report this week that Irish people will be significantly overweight by 2030.  The WHO report revealed that 89% of Irish men and 85% of Irish women will be overweight by 2030.

Rebecca Jones, a research graduate of Emory University, Georgia in the US and Dr João Breda, World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe presented the research at the recent European Congress on obesity.  Ms Jones said “We think it is likely that in countries with lower obesity rates, breastfeeding practices are playing a part as well as incorporation of nutritional education towards mothers and physical activity at young ages.”

Dr Eva Orsmond also said that she feels that breastfeeding babies is very important for the first six months to prevent children from being overweight.  She also thinks there should be free meals provided for children in schools.

In my personal opinion, I think there are a number of different reasons why Irish children are overweight.  I think certainly eating excess fat, sugar and salt has increased children’s weight.  Sugar and salt are added to many sauces to add flavour so parents need to be aware of this, and perhaps look to alternative means of flavouring foods, like with herbs and spices. Children are tending to lead a more sedentary life these days. Instead of going outdoors and playing, they are inside playing computer games or watching television.  I think in some cases there may not be enough access to parks or a safe place for children to play so this problem needs to be addressed.  Also with the wet climate in Ireland children tend to have to play indoors more.  It is my belief during the winter months schools should provide more time for indoor P.E in schools.

It unfortunately, of course, can sometimes  be a financial issue for parents, buying a McDonald’s is cheaper than buying vegetables and meat.  However, if parents perhaps went into their local fruit and veg stores, instead of big name supermarkets they can certainly finding most food cheaper and from their home shores.

Some children overeat when they are unhappy so encouraging a child to talk about his/her feelings is important.  I think it is a delicate issue for a child being told they are overweight so it is important for the parents and doctor to be sensitive about it.  It is important that they explain to the child it is because of health reasons that they are concerned with the child’s weight and not that they look unattractive.

Overweight children can develop eating disorders if too much emphasis is put on their weight. So it is important to take the focus of the child’s appearance and compliment the child for being kind or doing well in a test etc. Overall, I think if children eat a well balanced diet with occasional treats and moderate exercise, they will keep within a normal weight range for their age and height.

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