Adoption of European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015–2020
The WHO European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015–2020 was launched this week at the 64th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe. The Action Plan calls for a comprehensive response to the challenge of diet-related noncommunicable diseases, obesity and all other forms of malnutrition still prevalent in the WHO European Region. It clearly presents a package of evidence-informed policy actions that are likely to be effective in promoting healthy diets, especially when implemented collectively. Based on experience from countries, these tools and actions can be adapted for use by countries in ways that suit their particular circumstances.
New research confirms the idea that obesity is increasingly seen as the norm
The study published in the Journal of Internal Medicinefound that overweight and obese mothers and children fail to recognize abnormal weight. People of normal weight make this mistake much less often. “This is worrying, as flawed weight perception impedes one's ability to recognise obesity and its risks as a personal health issue," the researchers commented. The results echo recent Irish findings from Safefood that found people’s perception of their own bodyweight and their children’s bodyweight were often wide of the truth. Earlier this year, Dame Sally Davies, CMO at Public Health England also raised concerns about the ‘normalisation’ of overweight in her annual report.
The Euro Diabetes Index 2014 ranks Ireland lowest in Western Europe for diabetes care and data collection
The Index was today presented at the 50th Congress of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Vienna. The Index ranks Ireland twentieth out of 30 countries. According to index director Dr Beatriz Cebolla, “Ireland has major public health problem, with an obese and sedentary population.” While we have excellent services we are not adequately recording outcomes. The index makes a number of recommendations for improving diabetes care in Ireland:
Start monitoring and publishing data about diabetes care procedures such as blood-sugar levels and foot, eye and renal complications
Improve public health by addressing obesity, nutrition and physical exercise in schools
Upgrade the Irish diabetes registry to register and publish data on care procedures
New research published in the Journal ‘Preventative Medicine’ found that people who were active in their commute to work rather than just sitting in a car benefitted from improved mental wellbeing. In addition to the known physical health benefits associated with walking and cycling, such as reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, active travel also improved mental wellbeing in a number of areas such as concentration, the ability to make decisions and enjoy normal daily activities, and that it reduced the feeling of being constantly under strain. The work builds on previous NICE Guidance on walking and cycling and the benefit of active travel on physical and mental health. The guidance sets out how people can be encouraged to increase the amount they walk or cycle for travel or recreation purposes
European Mobility Week officially starts today, with almost 2000 European towns and cities expected to participate. The theme this year is "Our streets, our choice", and aims to encourage citizens to 'reclaim' urban spaces to create the city they want to live in. Throughout the week, the relationship between land use and quality of life will be examined. Approximately 2000 European towns and cities are expected to participate in events such as sustainable commuting challenges, teleworking campaigns, flash mobs, car free day events, creative competitions, festivals and many more activities.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar wants healthier food in Irish hospitals
Minister Varadkar will today meet with the heads of the state’s 50 hospitals in a series of consultation meetings with health service stakeholders. One of the things the Minister will be calling on hospital bosses to implement is to offer a wider variety of healthy foods on their menus. The NHS has recently revealed new mandatory guidelines from the Hospital Food Standards Panel to raise standards of hospital food the UK. Under the changes, all patients will be checked for malnutrition, given an individual food plan and get help eating and drinking. Canteen food must also be healthy, meet guidelines on salt, sugar and fat and be sustainably sourced. Hospitals will be scored on the standard of their food, with results to be posted online on NHS Choices.
Weight discrimination contributing to the obesity problem according to new research from UCL
The study in the Journal, Obesity, of nearly 3,000 adults over four years found those who said they had experienced weight discrimination put on more weight than those who did not. Researchers from University College London (UCL) say this suggests that blaming and shaming people for being overweight is counterproductive. Instead they say it is better to be supportive and encouraging. The study said "widespread weight bias" had been reported in health professionals, and not just among the general public. A recent conference hosted by the Association for the Study Obesity on the island of Ireland (ASOI) explored the issue of weight stigma and the barriers it creates in preventing and treating obesity.
Irish Heart Foundation call for a €30 million fund to tackle child obesity and food poverty
In their pre-Budget submission, the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) call for the setting up of a ‘Children’s Future Health Fund’ to deliver a package of measures, including schemes to help families on low incomes afford healthy food; the provision of nutritious school food, including breakfast clubs for all disadvantaged schools countrywide; and the introduction of subsidies for fruit and vegetables. These measures may help help the one in four children that is now overweight or obese and estimated 20% who go to bed hungry at night. The Fund could be financed by a 20% tax on sugar sweetened drinks that would yield in the region of €60 million to the Exchequer according to a recent Health Impact Assessment (HIA).
The UK Government welcome the decision by Coca-Cola to introduce traffic light nutrition labels on the front of its cans and bottles.
Coca-Cola and Cadbury had previously rejected the voluntary traffic light labelling programme introduced in July by Public Health England. However, Coca-Cola said that it had changed its stance after "having gauged British consumers' views on the scheme". The colour-coded labels will show nutritional content in each container and percentage guidelines for daily consumption of fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories. Jane Ellison, parliamentary under-secretary of state for Public Health, said: "the scheme will help consumers make informed choices and lead a healthier lifestyle”. The colour coded labels will appear on packs in-store within the first half of next year.
A new report from Safefood has found that younger generations are not learning how to cook healthily for themselves
This new research from Safefood finds that food skills can influence healthy eating behaviour. Food skills is defined as not just cooking skills, but nutrition knowledge, food safety knowledge, consumer awareness, and planning and budgeting. The research highlights that today’s busy lifestyles mean parents aren’t cooking at home as frequently contributing to an over reliance on unhealthy processed meals and younger generations are in turn not learning how to cook healthily. The problem is confounded by low engagement with Home Ec. at schools, particularly among boys. However, the report did welcome a trend towards an increased interest in home cooking.