Group urged to study obesity

THE Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) has urged the Minister for Health to establish an expert group to examine obesity levels.

Research findings show a rise of 67% in the number of people overweight in the past 10 years.

IHG chief executive Michael O’Shea yesterday urged the Government to adopt a partnership approach with the food industry to look at food content. If this fails, regulations should be introduced on the content and marketing of foods for children.

According to Mr O’Shea, a survey carried out by the group (SUSTAIN) found, between 1995 and 1999, all of the foods targeted at children in TV ads had high fat, high sugar and high salt content.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health is proposing to study the fat in food and obesity levels, in co-operation with the medical profession, An Bord Bia, the fast-food industry and the Irish Sports Council.

Committee chairman Deputy Batt O’Keeffe said the committee is proposing a “raft of information” needs to be gathered in the wake of the Minister for Health Micheál Martin’s proposals for a tax on fatty foods.

“A fat tax has been brought into Australia and New Zealand and there is a committee report supporting the same move in the UK. Ireland is the only country that doesn’t have a VAT on convenience foods and foods which have a high cholesterol, high calorie and low fibre content,” he told Medicine Weekly.

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