Country Profile – Ireland

Here at ECPO we are a European organisation consisting of volunteers from across 24 countries. Our aim is to support the national associations and collaborate as one strong united voice.

Obesity in Ireland

23% of adults (15-65 years) in Ireland have obesity as classified by a BMI of > 30kg/m2. This equates to 845,250 individuals (Healthy Ireland, 2019). In a survey of adults over 50 years, 36% had obesity as classified as a BMI > 30kg/m2 (Leahy et al, 2014). 5% – 7% of children < 18 years have obesity in Ireland, this equates to 62,589-87,625 individuals. Obesity prevalence is higher in girls, older children and disadvantaged areas (COSI, 2020). Obesity is not currently officially recognised as a disease in Ireland.

There are 3 specialist services for people with obesity in Ireland. All are members EASOs ‘Collaborating Centres for Obesity Management’ initiative. (COMMs)

  1. Soalta Hospital Group (Galway University Hospitals and Croi CLANN) and another in Ireland
  2. East Hospital Group (St Columcilles Hospital, Loughlinstown). There is one
  3. National obesity service for children and young people in Childrens Health Ireland at Temple St Hospital.

The services offered at the specialist centres include medical and multi-disciplinary weight management programs from healthcare professionals including a medical doctor, nurse, registered dietitian, registered physiotherapist, medical social worker and a psychologist. These programmes typically offer nutrition, psychology and physical activity and rehabilitation treatments with behavioural therapy and obesity medications if appropriate. They assess underlying causes for and of complications of obesity and provide additional support or referral to other specialists (including transition to adult services) as needed. The teams also assess for suitability for bariatric surgery for adults and will refer eligible individuals for bariatric surgery if eligible.

There are two Bariatric Surgery Centres in Ireland for adults available in the health service in Saolta Hospital Group and Ireland east Hospital Group. Unfortunately waiting lists for these services are currently very long. Bariatric surgery is not available for adolescents in Ireland currently.

People with obesity in some areas of Ireland can access support from local weight management services or support from health and social care professionals (dietitians, physiotherapists, nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists) through their GP or primary care centre. However these services are very limited at a national level.

There are a variety of community health promotion programmes available in local areas which can support people with obesity to self-manage behaviours that impact on weight (eating, exercise, stress, sleep etc) such as ‘Living well with Chronic Disease’ programme and ‘Healthy Food Made Easy’ programme. These are not available in all areas.

Useful websites:

Country Representatives

Patient Organisations

Organisations are available to support people who are living with obesity. The organisations available offer educational events (on site and virtual), Brochures and magazines, support for local self help groups which in turn serve patients.

Scientific Organisations

Scientific organisations that specialise in the treatment of obesity by supplying information on research and setting the guidelines for the treatments available.

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