PUBLIC health measures around drink driving, smoking, and alcohol are always controversial when introduced, but retrospectively they are well received, says Fianna Fáil councillor, former Lord Mayor, and GP John Sheehan.
Last week, the HSE’s clinical lead on obesity called for meal deals to be made illegal in order to encourage better food choices.
Speaking to The Echo, Dr Sheehan said there were two things to consider in relation to the HSE proposal to ban meal deals in supermarkets and convenience stores.
“Any public health measure that comes out, whether its drink driving, seat belts, smoking, minimum alcohol pricing, everyone always gives out about it being a nanny state and the government telling us what to do and things, but then when we look back 10 or 20 years after, we are always wondering why were we allowing these things to happen,” he said.
The Fianna Fáil councillor and health practitioner said the second thing to consider is who would be affected the most by any such restriction on budget meals.
“Any public measure that comes out there is always kickback and I think this is just trying to get us to eat healthily. The one thing I would say about it, is meal deals are very attractive, they are bought by a lot of people, a lot of younger people, people affected by the rising cost of living and sometimes these measures can affect young people and people on lesser incomes.”
Mr Sheehan said there were alternative methods of changing people’s eating habits that could be more progressive and beneficial. “We have to be doubly conscious of that, so there are ways of getting people to change their habits and be healthy that doesn’t actually affect younger people on fixed incomes and I think that needs to be teased out a bit first or you could get a very negative reaction.”
He said encouraging people to eat better was not new and not a bad thing.
“Part of this has been going on for the past 30-40 years, trying to get us to eat healthier and improve our habits and they are all small things initially but they make a difference in the long run.”
In relation to the current HSE proposal, Dr Sheehan said more thought was needed to create a practical and effective health measure.
“I think this measure needs to be thought out more to ensure it does not disproportionately affect people on fixed incomes.”
Patricia Donovan, Farranree:
I don’t think the HSE should be allowed to ban meal deals.
I know it’s not good for people, but it’s their choice.
You can’t be bullied, you need to be allowed make your own choice.
I don’t know if there is a connection between meal deals and obesity.
I have two sons and they are very healthy and they would eat a meal deal every now and again.
The option should be there for people.
Dylan Fenton, Cork City:
I have bought meal deals in the past, I think they are good value.
I think with the cost of living increasing it’s a bad idea to get rid of meal deals.
I don’t think there is a correlation between meal deals and obesity.
It’s just a deal, it’s just good value for food, if you are hungry it’s just a nice option for lunch.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to ban them.
Cian Magge, Cork City:
I think it’s pretty stupid (to ban them).
A meal deal is not a big fattening meal. You can get a water, a wrap — it’s not too fattening.
A few chips aren’t going to do some harm.
I feel like if you wanted to, you could go and get a big bag of Doritos or a big bar of chocolate for cheap so I feel like it’s not going to harm you too much.
It’s just a lunch.
Jonathan Healy, Cork:
I think it’s a good idea that people get the perception of value, but I think it’s very important that value doesn’t do any harm.
I’m a glutton for punishment when I see an offer like that, I normally fall for it, and normally those offers don’t include a healthy option.
If there was a healthy option, instead of fizzy drinks and crisps, I would be better off.
Sometimes I probably go for the wrong option because I look for value.