Today I called for changes made to vending machines in some Government Departments to offer healthier options to staff . I believe this is the way forward – moreover, other workplaces, school buildings, and particularly hospitals should follow suit
It is a sad and costly reality that Ireland is on the road to becoming the most obese country in Europe.
However, it was refreshing and reassuring to hear that healthier options in vending machines have been made available in some government departments. This change has come as a result of a health conscious staff request. The vending machines now supply snacks including fruit, nuts and rice cake bars.
In my view, it is imperative that schools, workplaces and particularly hospitals, follow suit across Ireland where they have not already.
Obesity has become one of the biggest public health challenges Ireland has to face. Many patients who are in hospital are there due to an obesity related disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure or coronary heart disease. They, and other patients, should not be encouraged to eat foods with high salt, sugar and fat contents, especially while they are in hospital.
Although there have been conscious decisions and plans put in place to address Ireland’s obesity issue, we need to keep the ball rolling.
The ‘Obesity Policy and Action Plan’ was launched in September last year by Minister for Health, Simon Harris. It is an important piece of work for the improvement of Ireland’s health and tackles obesity head on.
I also commend my colleague Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy for initiating a public consultation , the result of which will be to provide flexible guidance that can be adapted to any workplace setting to help create and sustain healthy workplaces throughout Ireland. The consultation can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HealthyWorkplaceFramework – and will be open until the 19th May 2017.
Small and simple changes, such as altering the contents of vending machines for the better, will assist the action plan’s efforts in tackling obesity.
We need to actively work towards cultivating a society that makes healthier choices. This will have a direct and positive effect on future generations and it will reduce some of the pressure on our health system.