Obesity is one of the most challenging public health diseases of the 21st century. The statistics for Ireland are particularly worrying – six out of every ten adults and one in four Irish children are overweight or obese. Obesity can have devastating medical and social costs including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, shortened life expectancy, social isolation and a significant mental health burden and consequently requires urgent action.

The stark warning, and the call for more to be done to prevent and to treat the disease, comes from Europe’s leading organisation responsible for research into obesity, The European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO). “Obesity is a complex problem with nutritional, activity-related, psychological, biological and social determinants. Consequently, any realistic solutions must be multifaceted and be implemented as part of a suite of measures” says Dr Grace O’Malley, Chair of EASO’s national member association The Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland (ASOI).

ASOI is calling for greater awareness and understanding of obesity and more effective action to be taken to coincide with European Obesity Day 2017 on May 20, the theme of which this year is “Tackling Obesity Together”. ASOI is concerned in particular with stigmatisation of people with obesity in Ireland. People living with obesity are regularly singled out as being different – needing to eat, exercise or behave differently – a view which only increases weight stigma. Weight stigma is encountered by individuals in school, workplace and healthcare settings. Such stigma may cause individuals with obesity to avoid interacting with the health service and may hamper efforts to seek treatment.“We are delighted that the theme of European Obesity Day for 2017 is Tackling Obesity Together as it recognises that to be effective we need to have comprehensive strategies that cover all aspects of weight management. In addition to focusing on the delivery of effective treatment at an individual level, we know that implementing broader family, community and public health policies are essential. Strategies that promote healthier active lifestyles, better sleep and reduce the consumption of excessive amounts of high-calorie foods and drinks work best” says Dr O’Malley.

Ireland has made some progress in recent years with the establishment of: Healthy Ireland; the Department of Health’s Obesity Policy and Action Plan and Healthy Food for Life campaign; and the upcoming Code of Practise on marketing, product placement and sponsorship of HFSS food to children and adults. However, comprehensive obesity treatment approaches for both adults and children remain significantly under-resourced.
Among the activities planned for European Obesity Day will be a major policy conference in Brussels to which EU Member State authorities will be invited in order to share best practice and to discuss the challenges they face when developing and implementing obesity strategies. It will also be attended by representatives from various European institutions and the World Health Organization.

Further details of how to support European Obesity Day and where to find more information on obesity, and obesity prevention and treatment, are available on the European Obesity Day website: www.europeanobesityday.eu. Activities can also be followed on Twitter (@EOD2017 and #EOD2017) and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/EObesityD/

For further information:
Please see the European Obesity Day website: www.europeanobesityday.eu; the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) www.easo.org; and the World Health Organisation www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/obesity.

Media contacts:
ASOI Committee info@asoi.info OR Ms Sheree Bryant, European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) sbryant@easo.org /Tony Kirby, tony@tonykirby.com +44 7834 385827