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Irish Obesity and Overweight is Growing

10 Facts about Irish Obesity

Crisis: we have evolved into a nation of overweight people with almost a quarter of the country classed as obese.

The obesity time bomb is no longer just ticking - it has exploded with new evidence showing that a massive four out of five over-50s in this country are now overweight or obese.

So what's happening and, more importantly, why is it happening?
Here are some of most shocking facts about obesity and the damage - physically, emotionally and financially - it's causing to our society today.

1 Nearly two-thirds of us are either obese or overweight

Almost a quarter of us are obese and a further 37pc of Irish adults are overweight. The rates of obesity and people who are overweight have increased in the past 20 years and the numbers continue to grow.

2 It's putting our children at risk

Shockingly, the obesity crisis is now affecting children as young as three and four years of age. The Growing Up In Ireland Study showed that almost 20pc of nine-year-olds were overweight in 2011 and a further 7pc obese. Ireland's only dedicated childhood obesity treatment programme, at Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin, has had a 400pc increase in just one year in referrals of children under five years of age.

3 We lack self-awareness of body size

Research shows that adults are poor at identifying overweight in themselves. Acknowledgement of excess weight and an understanding of its health consequences are essential first steps in tackling obesity.

4 It's costing us millions

The annual cost of obesity is estimated at €1.13 billion, 35pc of this - around €398 million - is in direct healthcare costs. The remaining €728 million are indirect costs in reduced productivity and absenteeism.

5 A ticking time bomb

A severely obese person is likely to die eight to 10 years earlier than a person of normal weight. According to Prof Ivan Perryof UCC, more than 1,000 people die each year from heart disease and strokes because of what and how they eat and because of lack of exercise. The Institute of Public Health in Ireland has predicted that chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes are expected to rise by 40pc in the Republic of Ireland by 2020.

6 Weight and cancer risk - the evidence!

According to the World Cancer research Fund, the evidence that being overweight increases the risk of cancer is stronger now than ever before. In fact, scientists believe that, after not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do for cancer prevention. Being overweight increases the cancer risk of the following:
* Bowel
* Oesophagus
* Kidney
* Womb
* Breast (in post-menopausal women)
* Ovary
* Gallbladder

7 It can lead to prejudice and discrimination

Despite worldwide increases in the prevalence of obesity and the recognition that genetics can be a factor for some individuals, prejudice and discrimination towards obese individuals persists.

8 Sugar is a big part of the problem

According to Professor Donal O'Shea, the scientific evidence that is there towards sugar contributing to the obesity crisis is stronger now than ever before. Reduce sugar intake in children and you will lower the impact on the child's weight, he says.
"Sugar is addictive in the same way alcohol is addictive. Sugar as in sucrose is less addictive but we consume it in such large amounts," he says.
"The same parts of the brain that light up with alcohol light up with sugary drinks. People will not let their kids smoke a cigarette or drink a glass of wine - there has to be the same attitude to daily consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. These should only be consumed by children very occasionally."

Irish Independentfor the complete article

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