The Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs will consult experts such as the GAA, the IRFU and Operation Transformation on the best way to tackle childhood obesity, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Chair of the Committee, Alan Farrell, has said the group will work towards developing a strategy to that will benefit children and young people across the country in 2018.
Currently, one in four children in Ireland is obese. The latest figures also show that four out of five Irish children do not get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise a day.
Deputy Farrell said: “In the New Year, I hope that the Committee will be able to engage with experts and interested groups from across the nutrition and food industry, sporting organisations, children’s advocacy groups, and other such parties, in order to identify the best methods of tackling the challenges posed by childhood obesity.
“The Committee would greatly benefit from advice from bodies such as the GAA and the IRFU on this issue given their local clubs often act as focal points in communities across the country.
“Furthermore, I would also hope that we would be able to invite representatives from initiatives such as Operation Transformation, given the inspirational role the show has taken on in terms of encouraging people to embrace healthier lifestyles.
“I look forward to working with my committee colleagues, from all parties and none, on this issue, for the benefit of children and young people across the width and breadth of our country.
“Childhood obesity presents a large challenge for our society in terms of public health.
“As such, we must give thorough consideration to measures which encourage our younger generations to eat healthier, and to engage in more physical activity.
Deputy Farrell continued: “While it is without doubt that eating healthier and living more active lifestyles is of the utmost importance in tackling childhood obesity, tackling just one aspect alone is not enough.
“I hope to lead a fulsome discussion which will allow the Committee to make recommendations based on the integration of both healthier food options, and greater levels of sport and physical activity into every child’s life.
“The recent initiative by the Department of Education and Skills to make physical education a Leaving Certificate subject is certainly positive in this regard.
“However, this is only a small step on the journey our country and our society must travel in terms of equipping young people to live healthier, and longer lives.
“Encouraging our children and young people to eat healthier and to be more physically active is, I believe, essential in terms of getting them to take up habits which could stay with them for their whole lives.
“As we all know, the New Year, and particularly the month of January is a time when fitness, exercise, and healthier living are prominent in our national consciousness.
“I would hope that, as we approach the start of 2018, we can put a particular emphasis on this topic in relation to our future generations.”