Irish Medical Organisation

IMO responds to World Health Organisation warning of obesity epidemic in Ireland

President of the IMO said WHO warning is the starkest warning of an impending health crisis that he has seen in 30 years in medicine.

Wednesday 6th May 2015. The IMO has called for an urgent and comprehensive response from the Department of Health and the HSE to the warning by the World Health Organisation (WHO) about an impending obesity crisis in Ireland. The President of the IMO, Dr. Ray Walley, said the warning from the WHO was the starkest warning of an impending health crisis for Ireland that he has seen in 30 years in medicine.

Dr. Walley said it was now clear that Ireland was facing massive population-wide health problems if we do not succeed in tackling this obesity crisis early and comprehensively. He warned that an obesity crisis on the scale suggested by the WHO would imply exceptionally high levels of chronic illness across a range of areas including diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

Speaking today Dr. Walley said that the IMO, in line with our 2020 Vision for Health, calls for a comprehensive response to this crisis involving changes across the full scope of public policy with a particular focus on childhood obesity. “Government must act and act fast. We need a comprehensive plan across all Government including taxation on high fat and high sugar foods, this taxation should be used to fund integrated health services for obese patients and fund educational projects to encourage younger people to make healthier choices”.

The IMO has published policies on childhood obesity including the following proposals:

• Population measures to improve nutrition and encourage physical exercise
• Education to increase understanding of the problem of obesity and what constitutes a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle
• Measures to improve nutrition and encourage physical exercise in schools

Dr. Walley said that the WHO warning must stimulate a Government-wide review of policies that influence obesity; “Nothing should be out of scope. We need a response which ranges from overseeing advertising to how we encourage exercise to how we produce high quality food to how we help people currently suffering with obesity.”


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