Some of Ireland’s top medics have called on the Government to ban ads for sugar-sweetened drinks to children.

In a country where two-thirds of adults and one-quarter of children are now classed as obese, the Royal College of Physicians Ireland (RCPI) said vulnerable youngsters need to be shielded from slick ads and marketing.

The doctors called for a 9pm watershed for television ads for foods high in fat, salt and sugar and an outright ban on marketing these foods to children.

Professor Donal O’Shea, consultant endocrinologist and co-chair of the RCPI policy group on obesity, said children must be given the best chance for a healthy diet and lifestyle.

“This means, among other things, that children should be protected from advertising and marketing of foods and drinks known to increase overweight and obesity,” he said.

“We cannot expect that industry will take this responsibility on itself.”

Sporting ambassadors and organisations have a responsibility to promote physical activity and healthy consumption, including sugar free options. Training should also be developed to educate health care workers about weight management.

The college also said there should be a change in how deaths are recorded to allow for obesity to be listed as a cause on medical certificates.

In its policy paper, The Race We Don’t Want To Win, it warned that the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks is a major driver of childhood weight, and could lead to an obesity epidemic, with 90% of the population expected to be overweight or obese by 2030 unless drastic measures are taken.

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