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Home » Children's Health » Access to obesity treatment is limited: how we can help children and adolescents

Dr. Grace O’Malley

Senior Lecturer, School of Physiotherapy, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

Researchers want to hear from parents regarding child and adolescent obesity. By sharing their experiences, they can help improve the design and delivery of obesity services for children and adolescents in Ireland.

Obesity is a chronic relapsing condition where there is excessive build-up of fat tissue in the body, causing health complications. Fat tissue is stored in many different cells and organs in the body, which can sometimes damage the health and function of those organs.

We screen for childhood obesity using child growth charts. A diagnosis is given following a clinical assessment to determine whether, or how, the health of the child or adolescent is impacted.

Child and adolescent obesity in Ireland

It is estimated that around 9% of children and adolescents in the Republic of Ireland are living with obesity. Many require treatment to improve their health during childhood and to prevent the progression of health problems and disability into adulthood.

Around 48% of children and teenagers with obesity accessing care have high blood pressure. Around 10% have high blood sugar levels, and over 70% have difficulties with joint pain or movement. Treatment requires a long-term approach and involves nutrition, exercise and behavioural therapies. Some adolescents also require pharmacotherapies and access to surgical therapies, which are considered life and sight-saving.

It is estimated that around 9% of children
and adolescents in the Republic of
Ireland are living with obesity.

Accessing treatment in Ireland

Treatment is limited in Ireland, however, HSE investment in 2023 is a positive step towards implementation of the HSE Model of Care for the Management of Obesity. The National Complex Obesity Service treats those with complex obesity in Children’s Health Ireland, and the service is an accredited European Centre for Excellence. Community services are also being developed. Over time, all children in Ireland will be able to access care when needed.

Improving healthcare response to obesity

The LANDSCAPE Project is supported by a Health Research Board-applied partnership award between Dr Grace O’Malley, RCSI and Sarah O’Brien, HSE Health and Wellbeing Division. The project aims to map current clinical practices in Ireland related to the treatment of obesity in children/adolescents.

The project is providing valuable insight on how to improve obesity treatment services in Ireland by collaborating with frontline health professionals, healthcare managers, carers, parents and their children. We are currently recruiting parents, carers and teenagers in Ireland to learn from their views and perspectives via online questionnaires and interviews. We need the help of all parents in Ireland.

Please visit the survey at

For more information on the LANDSCAPE project:

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