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48 per cent of Irish people believe that the way to tackle the rising national obesity levels is through school-level education, according to a survey of 1,000 people throughout the country from protection specialist Royal London.

The survey found a split in opinion between genders and age groups when it comes to methods of tackling Ireland’s growing obesity issues.

36 per cent of women believed that it is necessary to take personal responsibility over this health issue, as opposed to 24 per cent of men and this view was most prevalent among those aged over 55 (46 per cent).

A study by The Lancet medical journal reports that a quarter (25.5 per cent) of Ireland’s population is classified as obese and by 2025 this is expected to rise to over a third (37.65 per cent), a fact that prompted the publication of the 2016 Obesity Policy and Action Plan.

Sara Murphy, of Royal London commented: “Education is the clear front-runner when it comes to respondents’ agreement as to what is the first step towards tackling obesity.

“Interestingly, the so called sugar-tax option isn’t a popular one, with just 15 per cent of respondents seeing the introduction of taxes on fast food and sugary snacks as the way forward”.

Younger adults aged 18-34 (14 per cent) were the most likely to favour an increase funding in health services to tackle obesity, compared with just 4 per cent of those aged 35-54 and 2 per cent of those over 55 years of age.

Obesity creates many complications; in addition to the significantly higher risk of suffering from many chronic diseases like heart disease, certain cancers, Type 2 diabetes and respiratory problems, there are also wider socio-economic implications to consider.

These include a reduction in overall national quality of life and productivity, and a strain on health services. According to a study conducted in 2012 by safefood, the estimated annual direct and indirect cost of overweight and obese adults in Ireland is approximately €1.13 billion.