Health Minister Simon Hamilton has reiterated his commitment to tackling the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Northern Ireland.
The Minister was speaking following the publication of outcomes for the period 2015-2019 to support implementation of A Fitter Future for All 2012-2022, the strategy for preventing and addressing overweight and obesity in Northern Ireland.
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 well-being, by creating an environment that supports a physically active lifestyle and a healthy diet.
The multi-sectoral Obesity Prevention Steering Group committed to reviewing and refreshing the outcomes after the first three years.
Publishing the outcomes that he wishes to see achieved over the period 2015-2019, Simon Hamilton said: “Overweight and obesity are well-proven risk factors for many long-term health conditions and there are too many people in Northern Ireland whose weight may be contributing towards their current or future ill health.
“Successfully tackling overweight and obesity will improve people’s quality of life, reduce pressures on frontline health services and even benefit our economy by increasing productivity. To be fully effective, however, action must be taken in a coordinated manner by multiple partners and across many settings.
“The 2015-19 outcomes within A Fitter Future for All illustrate my continued commitment, along with that of other Government Departments, agencies, and partners, to try and improve the quality of people’s lives by promoting better food and nutritional habits, and increasing participation in physical activity.”
The outcomes have been drawn up to enable further development and implementation towards realising the long term outcomes set in the strategy. Outcomes to cover the period 2015-2019 include, for example:
- Child carers’ attendance at Nutrition Matters for the Early Years training a requirement for registration
- Councils’ supported to have a play and leisure policy and action plans in place
- Increased opportunities for participation in play and physical activity for children and young people particularly in areas of deprivation
- Active Travel to / from workplaces further supported and work undertaken with employers on workplace physical activity schemes
The Minister concluded: “This is a long-term challenge which will require long-term action and commitment from service and delivery providers, health professionals, employers, government departments and most importantly, from people themselves.
“I don’t want to tell people what they should or should not be eating. I don’t want to continually lecture about the importance of physical activity. I want people to have choices in the way they live their lives, but I think it is absolutely vital to try and inspire people to choose healthier food and be more active if possible, for the sake of their own health and wellbeing.”
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
- can impact on emotional/psychological well-being and self-esteem, especially among young people
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