Overview and Context

In Dublin, almost 4 in every 10 people aged 15 and over are overweight, and two in ten are obese. Three in ten of the youth population are overweight or obese. This is generally in line with national levels indicating weight as a clear population health issue. Overweight and obesity is contributed to by diet – data shows that in Dublin 14.6% of people drink sugar sweetened drinks once or more per day, and only 28% eat at least five portions of fruit or vegetables daily (all data from Healthy Ireland Survey 2015).   

The following issues have been raised through stakeholder interviews and focus groups and were then endorsed through interagency workshops, as points needing to be addressed in South Dublin County in order to reduce the amount of people who are overweight or obese:

  • Perception of expense, inconvenience and a lack of knowledge. Many people believe that it is too expensive and inconvenient to eat healthily or do not have skills or access to cooking facilities. Information on nutrition needs to be shared in a user-friendly and easy to understand way
  • High risk populations – Lower income families, Traveller and Roma communities, and the homeless population are at risk in relation to healthy weight, issues of the affordability of nutritious food and access to cooking facilities
  • Sensitive topic – body image concerns and eating disorders can make this a challenging issue to discuss. Service providers require training in language and conversation strategies
  • Easy access to fast food – Fast food and high sugar processed food is too easily accessible to young people. Vending machines are too close to schools
  • Lack of parks and facilities – this impacts on the level of physical activity for children and adults
  • Local / urban food policy – In other countries /cities this is more common. The area would benefit from a food strategy
  • Lack of service or staff time / waiting lists – Public health nurses have no time to address this topic. There are waiting lists for dieticians and psychologists
  • Infant nutrition and weening – There are low rates of breast feeding and parents are not always properly weening
  • Focus on longer-term behaviour interventions – Healthy eating programmes are effective when paired with other physical activity programmes

Ensuring that food programmes are inclusive of various cultural groups – Recognising that South Dublin County is a growing multicultural community, participants highlighted the importance that food programmes are inclusive to new Irish communities