'Fit futures' aims to reduce childhood obesity

A significant step in tackling obesity in children in Northern Ireland has been launched today.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) has launched the ‘Fit Futures’ plan for consultation, joining up health, education and sport in seeking to reduce obesity in children.

The plan includes: establish healthy schools policy for toddlers and children facilitate an annual business and nutrition forum establish a Fit Futures Programme Board led by DHSSPS, Department of Education (DE) and Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) web-based resources on nutrition and physical activity trebling the number of pupils participating in Safe Routes to schools in Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson for the DHSSPS said: “Recent research reveals that around one in ten of our children are now obese. Well over a quarter are either overweight or obese. These are alarming statistics and do not augur well for their future health and well-being. We need everyone’s help – parents, teachers, care-givers, other professionals and indeed children and young people themselves. Unless we all take the need for good nutrition and an active lifestyle seriously, we will leave our children with unnecessary problems in the future.

“Obesity significantly increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer and type 2 diabetes. All of these shorten people’s lives or at best reduce the quality of life in Northern Ireland.”

The plan highlights that while all parts of society are affected, people from disadvantaged backgrounds are at the greatest risk of becoming obese and having related chronic health problems. A combination of poor nutrition and inactive lifestyles is having a negative impact on the mental health and well-being of young people and on children’s capacity to learn and develop.

The spokesperson concluded: “Government has already invested millions of pounds in policies and programmes such as Sport in Our Community, Extended Schools and Nutritional Standards for Schools Meals.

“The implementation plan also seeks to develop this long-term commitment to stop the rise in levels of obesity in children by 2010. While the future health of our young people is the primary concern, it is interesting to note that just stopping the rise in obesity could save the health service at least £200 million over the next twenty years. It is a real challenge for everyone. The Department strongly encourages people to send in their comments on the Fit Futures Implementation Plan.”


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

19 March 2020
Covid-19: Surge Plan Measures Revealed
The Department of Health is implementing a number of surge plan measures to manage the growing transmission of Covid-19 across Northern Ireland. Two key measures in the plan are the purchase of 40 new ventilators to boost availability to 179 by the end of March and the acceleration of testing to 800 per day.
13 March 2020
Local Coronavirus Response Under 'Daily Review'
Political leaders in Northern Ireland have said measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, including the closure of schools, are under daily review. A total of 20 people have tested positive for the Covid-19 strain of the virus in Northern Ireland.
10 March 2020
Coronavirus Closes Schools & Belfast Call Centre
The coronavirus outbreak has caused the temporary closure of two schools and a Halifax call centre. The business in the Belfast Gasworks area closed for deep cleaning today, Tuesday 10 March, after a colleague was diagnosed with Covid-19. It's understood employees have been told not to attend work at the south Belfast site.
12 March 2020
NI Covid-19 Total Rises By Two
Two further people have tested positive for coronavirus in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has revealed. Both cases are adults and are declared as secondary transmissions. One of the individuals had recently travelled from northern Italy, while the other has been linked to a previously reported patient who travelled to the region.
17 August 2004
Government launches 'get fit' initiative for young people
The government has launched a new initiative aimed at getting young people fit and active. The 'Fit Futures: Focus on Food, Activity and Young People’ strategy aims to help develop ideas for improving the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Northern Ireland.