A study by researchers at the Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick and Dalhousie University in Canada has found 34% of children between 6-12 years old admitted to hospital are overweight or obese.
The study, undertaken at the Children’s Ark, University Hospital, Limerick, found that as many as 1 in 3 children have at least 1 fast food meal during their hospital stay. Researchers looked at the types of food eaten by children in the hospital setting, especially the abundance of fried food and the lack of water, brown bread, dairy products, fruit and vegetables.
Study co-author, Professor Clodagh O’Gorman, Chair of Paediatrics & Consultant Paediatrician at Mid West Regional Hospital and University of Limerick explained; “There are approximately 145,000 paediatric admissions to hospital annually in Ireland. Limerick is probably representative of most of Ireland’s paediatric hospital wards. The incongruent abundance of fried foods in the hospital setting underlines the need for the introduction of age-appropriate nutrition guidelines to complement ‘Food and Nutritional Care in Hospitals’ issued by the Irish Department of Health and Children’s in 2009.”
Professor O’Gorman added; “Furthermore, approximately 50% of parents brought food into the hospital for their children. Of these, 60% brought fast food from takeaway restaurants. Children in hospital should be given treats, but these numbers suggest that as many as 1 in 3 children have at least 1 fast food meal during their hospital stay.”
Professor Colum Dunne, one of the study’s authors and Director of Research, GEMS, UL said "This multidisciplinary study, albeit limited in its scope, showed that almost 24% of the boys and 31% of the girls studied, and overall 34% of the studied children between 6 – 12 years old, were overweight or obese. Awareness and education of lifestyle choices are important, a challenge reinforced by our finding that nearly 67% of parents of overweight or obese children believed that their child was of normal weight ".
The paper is entitled “Children in hospital in Ireland - what do they eat and what do they weigh: a cross-sectional study” by Aisling Flinn, Alan Macken, Walter Cullen, Des Leddin, Colum Dunne and Clodagh O’Gorman was completed at the Children’s Ark, University Hospital, Limerick, Ireland and has been published by BMC Research Notes 2012 5:491. – is available here.
The study was undertaken by researchers at the Centre for Interventions in Infection, Inflammation & Immunity (4i), Graduate Entry Medical School, UL. 4i is the University of Limerick's newly-established research centre and brings together a multidisciplinary team of researchers focused on developing studies that impact health outcomes. A major focus of 4i is the translation of research findings into better patient outcomes and improved effectiveness, efficiency, and economics in healthcare provision.