Updated: 26/09/16 : 12:39:58
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Nutritional awareness is more important than exercise when it comes to tackling obesity

A leading health expert has warned that nutritional awareness is the key to reversing Ireland’s obesity crisis.

Roger Meacock, Head of Science at Dublin-based health and nutrition company Cellnutrition, said that only once we address the knowledge deficit about what we are eat and why we are eating it can we expect to lose weight and lead healthier lives.

Mr Meacock was speaking after the Government announced a new strategy aimed at tackling Ireland's growing obesity problem. It is estimated 60% of adults and 25% of children in Ireland are either overweight or obese. The “healthy weight for Ireland” plan includes promoting healthy eating, exercise and working with the food industry to produce healthier products.

Mr Meacock said: “Too many people are unaware of what they are putting in their body and the role nutrients and micronutrients play in making sure they are properly nourished.

“This isn’t about just kids or adults — it’s about everyone. There’s a widespread knowledge deficit about what proper nutrition is and the role micronutrients such as minerals and trace elements play in nourishing our bodies and making us feel full.

“People aren’t becoming obese because of a lack of exercise, they are becoming obese because they are eating too much of the wrong things and failing to get the nutrition they need from their food.

“Research shows that these days we only derive about one-third of the minerals from our fruit, vegetables and meat as we did 40 years ago. Our bodies are crying out for these nutrients that are missing from our diets but people don’t realise this. They mistake a mineral craving for a sugar craving, and they end up eating fatty, sugary food to try and satisfy this craving. But these empty calories don’t contain the nutrients they need so people are often still hungry afterwards and end up overeating some more.

“How much over-eating is due to mineral cravings that result in excessive calorie intake whilst never attaining the desired mineral levels?

“Overweight and obese people are malnourished at a micronutrient level and this has knock-on effects in other areas of their lives. Too many people don’t realise that many of the issues they have regarding weight gain, sugar and other food cravings, tiredness, lack of energy, poor sleep patterns, weakened immunity and ill health can be traced to mineral deficiencies in their diet.”

“Exercise is important in the battle against obesity but having a greater understanding of what you are eating and how it affects you is the key to successful weight loss.”