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Articles - Compulsory Home Economics

Oireachtais Committee Media Release:  


The Report on Tackling Childhood Obesity published today by the Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs makes 20 headline recommendations to help schools, communities and families make healthier choices for Ireland’s young people.

From March to October the Committee met scores of policy stakeholders -- including teachers, nutritionists, broadcasting and advertising authorities and urban planners -- to identify a new menu of fat-fighting policies for the nation.

“Unfortunately, as many as one in four children are overweight or obese, and evidence suggests that these children will be more likely to remain overweight or obese in adulthood,” said Committee Chairman Alan Farrell TD.

“Given the scale of childhood obesity levels, the simple fact is that we must do more to support and protect our children and younger citizens,” Deputy Farrell said.

“There is no simple solution. We must have a comprehensive approach addressing health, education, socioeconomic issues, and marketing factors among others,” Deputy Farrell said. “Of course diet, nutrition and physical activity are vital components in the fight against childhood obesity, particularly as most children and young people do not eat the recommended levels of fruit and vegetables, while many consume sugar-sweetened drinks and sweets daily.

“However, promoting better nutrition and more active lifestyles for children must involve wider positive changes in our society, economy, schools and advertising. The Committee has sought to identify this comprehensive approach within our Report. To fail to address each contributory factor would be tantamount to failing to serve the best interests of children and young people throughout Ireland.”

Among the report’s recommendations:

  • Fund research to identify “obesity hotspots.”
  • Set targets for reducing the socioeconomic inequalities that underpin childhood obesity.
  • Consider targeted interventions to address issues such as food poverty that particularly influence obesity in low-income households.
  • Support youth workers in teaching young people about healthy eating and more active lifestyles, and make physical education a more important part of youth work.
  • Strengthen local planning powers to keep fast food outlets away from schools.
  • Audit the provision of sports facilities in schools and identify needs that could be funded as part of the National Development Plan.
  • Increase access to free drinking water in schools, consider a ban on vending machines, and consider making Home Economics a compulsory post-primary subject.
  • Address schools’ public liability insurance issues to promote more play time during breaks.
  • Work with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to restrict marketing of unhealthy foods during TV programmes with significant youth audiences.
  • Do more to promote breastfeeding as preferred public health policy

Full Report: https://drive.google.com/open?id=18LgVft33yeYWDcvYCr1LOTKm4JXNzSsM