COMMENT: The ticking time bomb of obesity

COMMENT: The ticking time bomb of obesity

Tradition tends to inform a lot of our eating habits, perhaps none more so than duing the Easter season.

Like Christmas, it's a time when many people throw off the proverbial shackles and gorge themselves on many of the delights of the festive period.

However, while no one wants to be a party pooper, our eating habits are something that are worthy of very serious consideration.

For there is a ticking time bomb at play here, and that is our frightening increasing rates of obesity.

So pronounced now is this that the evidence suggests that obesity could overtake smoking as the leading cause of cancer related deaths, according to the scientists who track such trends.

The data shows that smoking rates are continuing to decrease, while obesity rates are going up, putting it in the dubious position of potentially overtaking smoking as the biggest killer.

In an era of mass and rampant consumerism, the floodgates are well and truly open when it comes to putting on excess body weight.

So much so that Ireland's leading obesity expert, Professor Donal O'Shea says it's now time for the Government to regulate the size of bumper-sized, high salt, high sugar, high fat snacks throughout the year.

The statistics for Easter tell their own story.

The Irish public is anticipated to consume over 17 million eggs, or 2,100 tonnes of chocolate, while sales of Easter eggs are predicted to top €38.5 million.

All at a time when around 40 per cent of Irish adults are now classed as overweight, while almost 90 per cent of people over 50 years are obese or overweight.

Ireland's population is now more obese or overweight than the average European population.

Studies also indicate that lack of awareness is the most common reason for an increasing number of people suffering from obesity related problems.

And these problems are many and varied.

The long term effects for children include risk of heart disease, poor educational achievement, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Moreover, aside from the health aspect, it's costing us a a fortune in public health, and this price tag is set to rise.

Whether we like to acknowledge it or not this can now be classed as a public health crisis.

When paired with an elderly population the problems involved become manifest.

More awareness is certainly needed, as is acknowledgment of the crisis.

These would be the first tentative steps in fostering some responsbility and care about the whole issue of diet and what we eat.