Rates of obesity are growing worldwide reflecting profound societal changes in food consumption and levels of physical activity. It is estimated that approximately 20% of Irish children are overweight or obese, at least 20% of adults are clinically obese (with the prevalence of obesity increasing by at least 1% per year.
The obesity epidemic is driving a parallel global epidemic of Type 2 diabetes and it is estimated that by 2020 approximately 9.1% of Irish adults over the age of 45 will have diabetes. Overweight and obesity are centrally involved in the development of hypertension and the metabolic syndrome and the obesity epidemic and is likely to reverse current favourable trend in cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality. Obesity also contributes to the burden of disease from cancer, gall bladder disease, arthritis and a range of other conditions. The personal health and social costs of overweight and obesity include effects on self esteem, mental health and well being and overall quality of life.