New research from Safefood, Ireland and Northern Ireland’s public body responsible for healthy eating, has found that most would back a ban on the advertising of unhealthy food.
The move would come as a bid to tackle increasing rates of obesity and overweight.
Eight in ten people in Ireland agree that the advertising of unhealthy food aimed at children should be banned, while nearly seven in ten supported restrictions on adverts aimed at adults.
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The data collected by Safefood found that there was a “high level of public acceptance” when it came to policies that supported healthier food environments for children.
A statement from Safefood said: “The research demonstrated high levels of public support for government-led policies aimed at tackling childhood obesity, with over two-thirds backing the ban of vending machines with unhealthy snacks and drinks in schools (77.8%) as well as a majority backing planning restrictions on the opening of fast-food outlets close to schools (66.5%).”
The majority of respondents were in favour of healthy school meals and educating children on food preparation skills.
Most also believed that children should get a minimum of 30 minutes exercise in school every day.
Dr Aileen McGloin, Director of Nutrition with Safefood, said: “Overweight and obesity are the most serious long-term public health issues we face and tackling them poses complex challenges for policy makers, society and the Irish economy.”
“People are becoming more and more aware of these rising rates of overweight and obesity. Our research shows the public is ready for a range of policies for children and adults to address this and benefit them.”
“There’s already strong work happening at a policy level in Ireland. Of note is the establishment of nutritional standards in pre-school settings, the introduction of the sugar sweetened drinks tax and work in food reformulation.
“By identifying those policies that have strong public backing, we can better support and empower people to make healthier food and lifestyle choices. This has the potential to create lifelong, sustainable changes which can benefit current and future generations, our society and the economy in Ireland.”
The research, unveiled today, coincides with the All-Island Obesity Action Forum held in Belfast. Organised by the Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland along with Safefood, the event will see leading experts on the subject explore policies to address overweight and obesity.
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