Parents Have No Services To Turn To If Their Children Are Obese

At the launch of the INDI's (Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute) Nourish Children Week in Dublin today, it has been revealed that parents have little or no services to turn to in their community, if their children are overweight or obese.

The INDI presented a map of Ireland which showed that just three HSE childhood obesity prevention programmes for those children identified at risk of becoming obese exist across seven counties, and just two group treatment programmes exist, covering three counties. Approximately 1 in 4 (30,000) primary school children in Ireland today are either overweight or obese. The cause of childhood obesity is known to be excessive calorie intake for need and lack of physical activity. The negative impact of childhood obesity includes serious medical problems, poor self-image and quality of life and a greatly increased risk of remaining obese into adulthood.

The INDI mapping exercise of childhood obesity services across the country shows that:

There are only three childhood obesity prevention programmes for children identified at risk of becoming obese, operating across seven counties in existence. These are:

• The 'Lifestyle' programme in Longford & Westmeath, Offaly and Laois (for children aged 5-10 years)

• The 'Cool Dude' Food Programme in Dublin South East/ Wicklow (for children aged 8-12 years)

• The 'Bounce – Built to Move' programme in Galway (for children aged 9 – 12 years)

There are only two group intervention programmes for obese children operating across three counties in existence. These are:

• The 'Way to Go Kids' programme in Limerick (for children aged 9 – 14 years)

• The SCOTT programme in Cork and Kerry (for children aged < 18 years old)

Temple Street Children's University Hospital is the only children's hospital with an intervention programme (called W82GO) for obese children with co-morbidities but it currently has a nine month waiting list. There are no dedicated clinics for obese children at Our Lady's Hospital Crumlin but just limited access through endocrinology and other specialities. Obese children are seen by a dietitian in the National Children's Hospital Tallaght but the waiting list is over a year.

Richelle Flanagan, Dietitian and President, INDI said: "Our mapping exercise shows that 73% of the country does not have access to a childhood obesity prevention programme for children identified at risk of becoming obese and 88% of the country does not have access to a group intervention programme for obese children. However despite the Departments of Health and Children constantly highlighting the ever increasing rise of childhood obesity, they have not grasped the nettle and devised a national strategy and implementation plan to tackle it."


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