According to the latest The Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) in the Republic of Ireland (COSI) survey - carried out as part of the World Health Organization and European Union's effort to measure weight trends in young children - obesity rates in primary school children across Ireland are decreasing. The prevalence of obesity in children aged six to ten has continued to go down year on year.
The study by University College Dublin and Ireland’s Health Service Executive also highlighted that one in five primary school children in Ireland are have overweight or obesity - with this number increasing to one in three children between fourth and sixth class in schools designated as disadvantaged. The survey reported that girls in fourth to sixth class were more likely to be obese or overweight than any other age and gender group.
"This is the fifth round of surveillance we've conducted in Ireland as part of the WHO-EU Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative. The health of our children, largely predicts the health of our future adult population," said Professor Cecily Kelleher, principal at the UCD College of Health and Agricultural Sciences, leads the Irish research arm of COSI at the National Nutrition Surveillance Centre. "We know that childhood obesity is largely preventable through effective policies that can intervene early to create environments and behaviours that support healthy growth and development for all children."
Over 5,710 children from across first to sixth class in 135 sentinel primary schools took part in the latest survey.
"Robust population surveillance efforts like COSI are a valuable means of accessing our progress and the impact of these interventions over time,” she Kelleher. "We're very grateful for the support of the school communities - teachers, parents and children - who through their participation have allowed us to develop a rich understanding of childhood weight over time."
"Healthy weight for all children is important because we know that the consequences of childhood overweight and obesity can be lifelong, affecting quality of life and health both in childhood and adulthood,” explained Sarah O'Brien, National Lead, HSE Healthy Eating Active Living Programme, who said it was important to understand that obesity is not about a person's size or shape. "While the downward trend evident for children in early primary school years is very positive, the difference in prevalence evident for girls and those children attending designated disadvantaged schools is of concern....there is a clear need to ensure that policies and actions to support children and families address the wider obesogenic environment our children live in."
To view The Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) in the Republic of Ireland survey, please click here