Childhood obesity in Ireland will cost €7.2 billion, according to a new study led by the University College Cork (UCC).
With one in four children here overweight or obese, new UCC-led research funded by Safefood estimates that childhood obesity in Ireland will cost an estimated €7.2 billion in its lifetime.
Almost 80% of these overall costs will be due to absenteeism, premature mortality and lifetime income losses, the study also found.
“One in four children on the island of Ireland are overweight or obese and with a 70% risk of this tracking into adulthood, this can result in lifelong and intergenerational ill health,” Safefood director Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan said.
“Much can and must be done to lessen this otherwise inevitable and unacceptable burden on society and implementing the obesity strategies North and South is the way forward.”
More than 85,000 children in Ireland will die prematurely because of childhood obesity and overweight, the report also found.
The study found that health care would account for 21% of the total cost of childhood obesity in the Republic of Ireland, including hospital visits, and GP and drug costs.
However, just a 1% reduction in childhood obesity would generate savings of €365 million and a further 5% reduction would generate savings of €1.5 billion, the study also found.
The study’s findings show the need for effective and urgent public policy, according to UCC Research lead Professor Ivan Perry.
“Policy initiatives such as the tax on sugar-sweetened drinks and measures designed to promote walking and cycling among children have the potential to yield substantial savings in a relatively short time.”