Although sugar consumption has dropped among 11 – 15 year olds, obesity rates remain high

A recently released report from the WHO has found that sugar consumption of 11 to 15 year olds has decreased significantly between 2002 and 2014, although obesity has continued to increase.

The data for Ireland shows that 70% less 11-15 years drank sugar sweetened soft drinks daily in 2014 than did in 2002. The same survey found that daily vegetable consumption increased 12.5% and daily fruit consumption increased 26%, while daily sweets consumption decreased 49%.

Despite these positive figures, obesity in Ireland has been steadily increasing in recent years. Although children may be eating a healthier diet, there are clearly other issues contributing to the rising level of obesity among Ireland’s youth. For example, computer use of two hours or more on a weekday increased 203%, while moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity of 60 minutes or more a day decreased 4%.

I have raised concerns with regard to the increased time spent online by children before, particularly in relation to their mental health. However, this report from the WHO suggests that factors, such as the increased use of computers and smartphones, are having a substantial part to play in our obesity issue also – having the ability to increase obesity despite the improved eating habits of Irish children.

Therefore, in my view, it is clear that Ireland must continue to pursue an integrated approach to tackling obesity. Although I believe the sugar tax is a step in the right direction, we must also seek to significantly raise awareness of the importance of exercise and encourage students to stay involved in sport throughout their adolescents and into adulthood.

© Catherine Noone – Dublin Senator 2011. | Wordpress Webdesign by: exSite