Overweight children 'could fill Croker and Aviva'04/10/2012 - 13:38:50
The Director of Human Health and Nutrition at Safefood says Irish children are living in a hostile and toxic environment when it comes to childhood obesity.
Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan says one in five preschool children are either overweight or obese and this rises to one in four when it comes to eight year olds.
She says a tax on sugary foods would be a strong statement but has warned the Oireachtas Health Committee that it is not the only answer.
Dr Foley-Nolan has told the committee this morning that there are now enough overweight children in Ireland to fill both Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium.
She says Irish children have gained significant amounts of weight over the past 60 years with the average 14 year old now three stone heavier than they were in the 1940s.
“For many children in Ireland, their first communion is one of the first milestones and now one in four of those children require clothes above what would have been required some years ago," she said.
Dr Foley Nolan says there is no one answer to the problem but a so called fat tax would send a strong statement.
“It’s not going to solve the world’s problems but there is evidence that shows it will have some impact and it is also a statement from government to the population and industry that we need to get our act together.
However, not all members of the committee were in agreement. Senator John Crowne, a consultant oncologist, says a fat tax would punish everyone.
“A part of me thinks that if somebody is responsible and not terribly well off, and if they take their kids for a McDonald’s once a week that’s not so bad,” he said.
“It’s the people that are doing it three or four times a week are the problem.
“Why should we punish them by paying more when it’s not actually causing a problem?”
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