The Irish government appears incapable of dealing with the current obesity and overweight challenges facing the country.
Across our TV screens, on the radio, in the cinema, on busses and in all print media, there is a government-led initiative being ‘broadcast’ and that initiative is Healthy Ireland. Whilst there are elements of the initiative worthy of mention, in general, this appears to be just another box-ticking exercise so that the government can justify, come the next election, that it is fulfilling its mandate to the people of Ireland.
In our report, ‘Unhealthy Healthy Ireland’, we highlight the crucial information regarding the basis of effective weight loss, as rooted in science, that is missing from the Healthy Ireland initiative.
This information includes but is not limited to: the importance of protein to a balanced and healthy diet, how carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation, the importance of body composition as the best predictor of health and most importantly, advice and guidelines on the psychology behind why we overeat.
Aisling Connolly, Clinical Director, Motivation Weight Management, said: “We have learnt a lot about health over the past five decades and, no doubt, huge strides have been made in prevention, detection and treatment of major, life-threatening illnesses.
“We are also aware of where we have gone wrong in the past, although these, sadly, seem to hit our consciousness when it is too late. Just look at how aggressively tobacco firms used to advertise, and the sea of change and knowledge surrounding smoking that now sees warnings on cigarette packages. It has taken decades but, finally, smoking rates have begun to decline in a meaningful way. Still, many thousands of smoking-related illnesses and deaths occur every year.
“The time-lag that occurs in learning from scientists is evident in the climate change warnings that came two decades ago and were largely ignored. We fear that something similar is taking place within the area of weight loss and health. With so many invested interests in particular industries, such as the food industry, sometimes change seems to move very slowly.
“At Motivation, we can often feel frustrated and disappointed by health initiatives – mostly with the best intentions – that don’t seem to take into account the most recent developments and scientific findings, or miss vital opportunities to educate the public about how to change.
“The much-referenced sugar tax on sweet drinks does nothing to address the many sugars that are contained within the thousands of processed foods on our supermarket shelves. As a nation, we are deluding ourselves to think that the sugar tax is the answer.
“My one hope is that ‘Unhealthy Healthy Ireland’ will create dialogue amongst the key policy decision makers across all government departments and in time, they may acknowledge and recognise what science is teaching us about how to lose weight and maintain that weight loss.”