DoH Sets Objectives For Tackling Obesity

The Department of Health has set out its strategy for preventing and addressing obesity and overweight issues in Northern Ireland.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride reiterated his commitment to tackling the prevalence of the issue following the publication of new outcomes to support the 'A Fitter Future for All' strategy.

Launched in March 2012, the project 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 during the lifespan of the strategy. This is the second such review of the outcomes.

To enable further commitment towards realising long term progress, the DoH will:

• Increase membership of the PHA Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme across public and private sector businesses and organisations in order to create supportive environments for breastfeeding.

• Childcare settings registered by the HSC Trusts adhere to DoH Minimum Standards: Childminding and Day Care for Children under the Age of 12.

• Increased opportunities for participation in play and physical activity for children and young people particularly in areas of deprivation.
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• Councils supported to develop Greenway proposals which would enable children and adults to incorporate walking and cycling as part of everyday physical activity for active travel, recreation and health on 'traffic-free' routes.

These objectives will be implemented over the next three years.

Publishing the outcomes, Dr McBride said: "Overweight and obesity are 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."

Dr McBride said the challenge requires long-term action and commitment from service and delivery providers, health professionals, employers, government departments and most importantly, from people themselves.

He concluded: "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 that we inspire people to choose healthier food and be more active, for the sake of their own health and wellbeing."


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