In May 2010 the National Youth Council of Ireland and the Irish Heart Foundation unveiled a new resource entitled ‘Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL)’ to tackle the escalating problems of poor nutrition and declining levels of physical activity amongst Irish teenagers.
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Áine Brady, Minister for Older People and Health Promotion launched the publication while Dr. Colette Kelly, Survey Manager for HSBC Study in Ireland & Public Health Nutritionist, presented at the event. The aim of HEAL is to equip those working with children and young people with the skills necessary to promote healthier living among these age groups by providing guidance on health education, good eating, active living and health policies. “Promoting the physical health and well being of young people has always been a key component of youth work. With the alarming levels of obesity reported in Ireland in recent years, youth workers must play a part in assisting young people in reflecting on their diet and making healthier choices.
This new publication challenges youth organisations to influence healthy eating habits and suggests healthy food options for young people. We hope it will be of real benefit to anyone working with young people who are committed to providing healthy activities and choices for young people. In turn the young people will benefit from developing healthy behaviours which will serve them well throughout their lives,” commented Kevin O’Hagan, Senior Health Promotion Officer for the National Youth Health Programme in NYCI.
Michael O’Shea, Chief Executive of the Irish Heart Foundation stated: “Heart attacks and stroke may seem remote from young people’s lives, but the reality is that key risk factors such as high blood pressure and raised cholesterol, begin in childhood and develop over the life-course. This is why it is important to educate young people about healthy behaviours that will influence these risk factors, such as encouraging regular physical activity and healthy eating. Unfortunately, research shows that one in five Irish 5-17 year olds is overweight or obese which makes the development of resources like the new Healthy Eating Active Living guidelines even more urgent in encouraging healthy lifestyles for young people in Ireland.”