Childhood overweight and obesity rates have stopped rising among Irish primary school children.
Although obesity rates remain high, with one in every four Irish children obese or overweight, there is evidence that the problem has stabilized and the rates may be beginning to fall.
Researchers at University College Cork and University College Dublin studied the obesity rates in children during 2002-2012.
They found that childhood overweight rates had remained stable but national obesity rates had dropped from a constant 7pc to 4pc after 2008.
The study also found that on average girls were more likely to be overweight or obese than boys.
“Our research suggests that prevalence rates of childhood obesity in Ireland have levelled off, but one in four Irish children remain overweight or obese,” said lead author of the study, Eimear Keane from UCC.
“Obesity continues to have a significant impact on health and wellbeing, therefore policies that tackle the problem should be intensified,” she added.
The authors of the study conclude there is now a clear need for standardized methods to measure overweight and obesity in childhood in order to track future prevalence rates more effectively.
The research was funded by the National Children’s Research Centre in Crumlin.