One in every five Irish primary school children are overweight or obese, according to a survey conducted by the HSE.
The survey, which was carried out as part of the World Health Organisation and European Union Child Obesity Surveillance Initiative, found that girls in fourth to sixth class were more likely to be obese or overweight than any other age and gender group.
Weight issues are more prevalent in disadvantaged schools, with one in every three primary school children between fourth and sixth class reportedly being overweight or obese.
One in ten primary school children are classified as underweight.
Overall, the prevalence of obesity in primary school children is continuing to go down year on year but gaps arise between disadvantaged schools and other schools.
24.6% of children surveyed in disadvantaged schools were obese or overweight, while that figure for other schools was 15%.
Commenting on the findings, Professor Cecily Kelleher of the College of Agriculture and Health in UCD said:
Minister of State for Public Health, Frank Feighan said the lowering prevalence of obesity has been aided by new health policies, "The downward trend evident in the research for children in early primary school years is very welcome and comes as we are mid-way through the implementation of Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan."
"A number of key cross-sectoral initiatives focused on protecting the health of children have been introduced since 2016, including the Sugar-Sweetened Drinks Tax, Nutrition standards for school meals, Healthy Food for Life Guidelines, and a new Wellbeing Framework for schools – early years, primary and post-primary.”