Government Report Finds Pre-School Children Overweight

Almost a quarter of pre-school children are overweight or obese, a new government-funded study has shown.

The study, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and conducted by researchers from UCC and UCD as part of the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance, found that 23% of children between one and four are above the recommended weight for their age.

The survey shows that children in this age group increase their intake of soft drinks, biscuits and confectionery while they often consume whole milk rather than low fat.

It also found that many children are given processed meat instead of fresh meat, white bread rather than wholemeal, and fruit juice instead of whole fruit.

Salt intake by under fours is also too high, while they are not getting enough Iron or Vitamin D. Children in this age group are getting adequate fibre, however.

The report says years one to four are habit-forming years and it is important to help children to healthy body weight.

The authors of the report say new healthy eating guidelines are now needed for parents and carers of this age group. A lot of what they say is common sense: there should be proper portion sizes, lower amounts of salt and sugar, and higher intake of fruit, vegetables and vitamins.


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