New research shows parents are tackling childhood obesity

The alarming increase in childhood obesity has been well documented in recent years.

Now, new research by Safefood has indicated more and more parents are willing to tackle the issue.

Safefood launched its new research to coincide with the first year of its three-year campaign to raise awareness about the everyday habits that can lead to childhood obesity.

The research found the number of parents giving treat foods to children every day has fallen by nine per cent.

The number of parents who are open to discussing the issue of weight, if necessary, has increased by seven per cent.

Five per cent fewer children are consuming fizzy drinks every day, down from 45 per cent in 2013 to 40 per cent in 2014, and the number of parents serving age appropriate portions to children has increased from 12 per cent to 16 per cent.

The number of children getting an hour of physical activity a day has also increased - up by six per cent to 65 per cent.

Welcoming the findings, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said it is “really heartening” to see that families are paying closer attention to their children’s diet and physical activity.

Crisis

“Childhood obesity is one of the biggest risks to this nation’s future health,” said Minister Varadkar. “It looks like families are increasingly conscious of how even small changes to children’s diet and physical activity can make a big difference.”

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director of human health and nutrition at Safefood said that while it is encouraging to see parents making practical changes it is much too early to say the battle has been won.

“As a society we didn’t reach this child weight crisis overnight nor will it be solved in one year but these results highlight that our campaign messages have really resonated with parents,” she said.

“It is not easy to cut down on sugary foods when children have become used to overindulging but parents are making really important changes; it’s vital now to keep up this positive momentum for the health of our children.”

At present, approximately one in four primary school children is overweight or obese, according to Safefood.

The prevalence of excess weight is also beginning earlier in childhood, with six per cent of three-year-olds currently being obese, said the organisation.

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