OBESITY

‘Evil empires’ responsible for obesity crisis

"These big companies are trying to put a veneer of decency on their evil empire.”

Barry Landy

Reporter:

Barry Landy

Email:

barry.landy@dundalkdemocrat.ie

‘Evil empires’ responsible for obesity crisis

Anne Campbell is fighting back against the obesity crisis

Obesity is the “biggest future health crisis” in Ireland, according to one local councillor who wants more done to prevent “evil empires” targeting vulnerable people with junk food marketing.

Sinn Féin councillor Anne Campbell believes the multi-million euro business behind major food companies’ marketing is the biggest threat to the health of the nation and she says not enough is being done to combat it.

At last month’s Regional Health Forum meeting in Kells, HSE representatives presented their START campaign and while the councillor welcomed the initiative, she feels it doesn't go far enough.

“I really felt that they were just scratching the surface of what is, in my opinion, the biggest preventable health problem the country is facing at the moment,” Campbell told The Dundalk Democrat.

“The emphasis in the presentation was on parental responsibility and while that is certainly a factor in helping kids maintain a healthy weight right throughout their lives, there is nothing in the document to combat the very real and grave threat from junk food marketing, which is now a global, multi-million euro business.”

Campbell believes junk food companies, what she calls "”evil empires”, are using every possible means available to reach people, especially impressionable children.

“The marketing of unhealthy food is a serious threat to the health of the nation and the junk food companies are using every means at their disposal, including now advertising on kid-appealing channels on YouTube to push their wares all the more in a much more sophisticated and personalised way.

“I have previously referred to them, in council meetings, as the evil empire and I make no apologies for doing so,” the councillor added. “The food lobby, and not the gun or arms lobby, is the most powerful lobby in the world and more has to be done to combat the effects of marketing to children and families.

“It's not a fair fight. You can’t eat healthy on a budget. These big companies are trying to put a veneer of decency on their evil empire.”

The HSE’s START campaign aims to help children start on their healthy eating journey from an early age, engaging with their parents, guardians, healthcare professionals and teachers.