Irish government steps up plans to tackle nation’s growing obesity crisis
The Irish government has stepped up its plans to tackle the nation’s growing obesity crisis through the establishment of a task force that will look at the ways saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories can be reduced in processed food that is prevalent in Ireland.
Along with the task force a ‘Roadmap for Food and Product Reformation in Ireland’ was also published by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and the Minister of State for Public Health Frank Feighan.
Mr Donnelly highlighted the links between diet and non-communicable diseases and noted that it was “particularly evident in economically disadvantaged areas, where people tend to eat more processed food”. He also suggested that the new task force would work with the food industry “to combat inequality by improving the quality of the food available”.
Mr Feighan suggested that modern lifestyles were having a negative impact of people’s health and said that people were “living very busy lives and it’s not always easy, even with the best of intentions, to eat or buy the healthiest option”. He then suggested that the task force and road map were “important and positive steps forward for all of our health and wellbeing and will help to improve the nutritional quality of the processed food available to consumers and will have tangible benefits for public health”.
The Food Reformulation Task Force will sit within the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and will provide “a dedicated resource to work with all levels of industry to ensure progress and to address the difficulties that may arise in the highly technical process of reformulation”. FSAI chief executive Dr Pamela Byrne said the reformulation of foods has been proven to have a “positive impact on the quality of the diet and reducing salt, sugar and saturated fats in food products will positively contribute to a healthier population”. She said the FSAI would be engaging “with the food industry and other stakeholder” over the next four years.
The move comes as more retailers and producers move to make their products less harmful.