Fight Against Obesity Continues

Date published: 19 February 2018

The Department of Health has today published its progress report on the 10 year obesity framework ‘A Fitter Future for All’ 2012-2022.

fitter future

Launched in March 2012, A Fitter Future for All aims to empower people to make healthy choices, reduce the risk of overweight and obesity related diseases and improve health and wellbeing, by creating an environment that supports a physically active lifestyle and a healthy diet. The report published today covers the period June 2016 - June 2017.

Referring to this latest progress report Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride said: “It has long been acknowledged that reducing the levels of obesity and changing our lifestyles is a huge challenge for us all but that by working together and recognising the impact that this has on future generations, we can collectively make a difference.

“The negative impacts of overweight and obesity continue to threaten our population. Evidence suggests that being overweight or obese increases the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, some cancers and other serious health conditions. It is an issue that is increasingly influenced by what we buy and consume on a daily basis; and, the environment in which we live. It is no longer justifiable to think that tackling obesity is a standalone issue for the health and social care system but it is one which we must all take responsibility for.”

Continuing Dr McBride added: “A number of important outcomes have been achieved including; initiating a review of the current Chief Medical Officers Guidelines for Physical Activity; updating the Nutritional Standards for school meals; and, offering the Weigh to a Health Pregnancy (WTHP) programme to all pregnant women with a BMI over 40 – these are wide ranging measures and will have a positive impact on the health of our communities.”

Of the 50 current short term outcomes in the Framework, 88% are on track for delivery. Work will now begin to update and revise the short term outcomes for the final phase of the framework’s implementation from June 2019 to June 2022.

Mary Black, Assistant Director for Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement at the Public Health Agency, said: “We all have our part to play in promoting a healthy weight and tackling obesity. Organisations from the public, private, voluntary and community sectors are all working together to address the issue.

“The Regional Obesity Prevention Implementation Group contains a wide range of committed members who work together to develop and deliver programmes which contribute to the implementation of this Framework. Whilst the targets set out in the Framework to reduce levels of overweight and obesity remain a challenge, many lives have been positively influenced by the actions we have taken forward and the many programmes being delivered regionally and with local communities.”

The 2015-19 outcomes framework is available on the DoH website

Notes to editors: 

1. Obesity occurs when an individual takes in more energy through food and drink than they use up through natural bodily processes and physical activity.

2. Obesity is usually measured by Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a ratio of a person’s height and weight. In adults having a BMI of 25-30 is classified as being overweight and having a BMI of 30 or more is classified as obese. Waist measurement is a simple alternative measure which everyone can use to identify if they may be at increased risk of obesity related health problems. A waist size of 37 inches or more in men, and 32 inches or more in women puts you at increased risk of heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

3. Evidence shows that obesity:

  • reduces life expectancy by up to nine years;
  • increases the risk of Northern Ireland’s biggest killers – coronary heart disease and some cancers;
  • increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes – an obese woman is ten times more likely to develop diabetes than one who is not overweight; and
  • can impact on emotional/psychological well-being and self-esteem, especially among young people.

4. The DoH Framework for Preventing and Addressing Overweight and Obesity in Northern Ireland 2012-2022, its current short term outcomes, and progress reports can be accessed via on the Department's website

5. Targets of the framework:

  • Adults – To reduce the level of obesity by 4% and overweight and obesity by 3% by 2022.
  • Children – A 3% reduction of obesity and 2% reduction of overweight and obesity by 2022.

6. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or email Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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