Obesity

Obesity is the most common nutritional disorder in the world.

Irish Adults (18 years and over)

  • Two out of five Irish adults – 39% (45% of men; 33% of women) are overweight.
  • One in four – 25% (24% of men; 26% of women) is obese.
  • The trend towards obesity in Ireland is increasing. Between 1990 and 2000 theprevalence of obesity increased by 67% overall, up 1.25 fold in women (from 13%) andup 2.5 fold in men (from 8%).
  • Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of overweight and obesity in men in the EUand the seventh highest prevalence among women.
  • One in ten 5-12 year olds is overweight and a further one in ten is obese. In total, 22% of 5-12 year olds are overweight or obese.

Irish Teenagers (13-17 years)

  • One in five teenagers is overweight or obese (11% overweight and 8% obese) .
  • There has been a significant increase in teenage obesity since 1990 with an 8-foldincrease in males (1% to 8%) and a 2-fold increase in females (3% to 6%).
  • Economic Burden Costs for treating obesity in Ireland is estimated at €0.4 billion. The number of premature deaths annually attributable to obesity currently approximates to 2,000.

Prevention and Treatment of Obesity

  • The relative intellectual and psychological immaturity of children compared with adults, and their susceptibility to peer pressure present additional practical obstacles to the successful treatment of childhood obesity.
  • One possible reason for the failure of conventional and non-surgical interventions may be that adverse environmental factors overwhelm behavioural and educational techniques designed to reduce energy intake and increase physical activity.The Way ForwardThis is a major societal problem – the “toxic environment” needs to be targeted as it simultaneously restricts mobility and stimulates higher calorie intake. A population health approach, tackling both policy and legislation is required to create a supportive environment in which individuals are empowered to change if they choose.