With the latest Growing Up in Ireland report saying that some 19 per cent of three-year-old children are classed as overweight and 6 per cent were obese, clearly action is needed to tackle the extent of the problem, as identified in Fianna Fáil’s new document on Early Childhood Care and Education published this month.

Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy has said: “Fianna Fáil identified the urgent need to address childhood obesity as a key priority in our Early Childhood Education document, ‘Investing in Tomorrow’.  I believe that as a mandatory requirement of registration for new childcare facilities, there must be outdoor play space suitable for the number of children to be accommodated.  We believe the pre-school sector can have a crucial role to play in early intervention strategies to tackle obesity.

“We must provide infants, toddlers, and preschool children with opportunities for light, moderate, and vigorous physical activity for at least 15 minutes per hour including daily outdoor time for physical activity when possible.

“I believe a National Obesity Prevention and Treatment Strategy is required to tackle this problem. This would incorporate the health, food, media, advertising and education sectors as key stakeholders with particular responsibilities in obesity prevention and treatment.

“We need to see the development of and support to early intervention programmes and initiatives such as a Health Promotion Flag Initiative and the expansion of existing childhood obesity prevention programmes such as Up4it!

“Also it is essential that we enable infants and toddlers to move freely by limiting the use of equipment that restricts infants’ movement and by implementing appropriate strategies to ensure that the amount of time toddlers spend sitting or standing still is limited.

“We all know that early intervention is critical so I think there must be a real urgency and cross-party/cross-sector approach to tackling this problem.” 

You can download ‘Investing in Tomorrow’ here