A shocking new report has estimated the total lifetime cost of childhood overweight and obesity on the Island of Ireland to be €7.2 billion euro. 


The study, led by UCD and funded by Safefood, found that some of the costs represented direct healthcare costs (21%) but most the costs were indirect costs due to things like premature mortality, lifetime income loss and absenteeism. 


Currently, one in four children on the island of Ireland are overweight or obese and there is a really high risk (70%) of that continuing into adulthood. 


The cost per person was found to be in around €16,000 in the Republic, while in Northern Ireland, it was more than £18,000. Researchers also found that even just reducing body mass index by 1% per person would lead to a lifetime saving on the island of Ireland of around €365 million. A 5% reduction could generate savings of €1.5 BILLION. 


Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan is the director of Human Health and Nutrition with Safefood Ireland:

"This research highlights the health, social and economic costs associated with the very high levels of overweight and obesity in our children. 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."

The lead Professor of the study is Ivan Perry. He says it is time to take more serious action.


"The findings on the scale of these costs and the future burden on society should engender a sense of urgency on the need for broad-ranging and effective public policy to tackle the epidemic of overweight and obesity in childhood. 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."


The full title of the report is 'The Economic Cost of Childhood Obesity on the island and Ireland' and is available to view here