Health Initiative

The FDI Health Initiative is made up of a number of Irelands leading food companies.
These companies have led the way in demonstrating the positive steps industry are taking in the battle against obesity.
We believe that societal collaboration is the best way to tackle obesity and Ireland should be seen as an exemplar of this type of collaboration. This hugely ambitious initiative is answering a number of key asks from government as laid out in the National Obesity Strategy.

The FDI Health Initiative operates under two main pillars, Workplace Intervention & Nutrition.

Workplace Intervention
The workplace, where we spend a large amount of our time is a key focus for the FDI Health initiative.
Anywhere a person spends a large amount of time there is an opportunity to affect their lives in a positive manner.

FDI have developed Ireland's first National Workplace Wellbeing Day and in 2015 saw its introduction to the working population of Ireland.

Workplace Wellbeing Day, the now national annual event aims to improve employee wellbeing through promoting better exercise and nutrition in the workplace.

2017 saw over 500 companies of all sizes from across the public and private sectors participated in the annual event which aims to improve employee wellbeing through promoting better exercise and nutrition in the workplace. New research¹ shows that only a quarter of workers in Ireland (26%) take the recommended level of exercise for a healthy lifestyle each week. These statistics show that we have a long way to go to address the level of inactivity with in the workplace, but we have begun to arrest that trend.

Employers are also encouraged to enter the national Workplace Wellbeing Awards which are announced on the day. Sponsored by Mercer, the awards recognise employers across the public and private sector that are excelling at promoting workplace wellbeing within their organisations.

¹ The research was conducted online by Behaviour & Attitudes on a nationally representative sample of 18-65 year old people employed in the Republic of Ireland. The fieldwork was carried out from 25th January to 2nd February 2017. A total of 996 employees participated in the survey.

January 2016 saw then Minister for health, Leo Varadkar TD launch a report from Food Drink Ireland (FDI) which shows significant reductions in fat, saturated fat, sugar, salt and calories achieved through reformulation, which includes changing the recipes, of some of Ireland’s most popular foods and beverages.
The reformulation project used data on 600 products from 14 FDI member companies and showed that during the seven years (2005 – 2012) covered by the research:

· Salt content of the products analysed reduced by 37%
· Sugar content fell by 14%
· The amount of energy as measured in calories sold over the seven years to 2012 reduced by 12%.
· Both total fat and saturated fat intake reduced by approximately 10%

Minister Varadkar said: “In Health, the focus is generally on the day to day problems we face but we will never get on top of these or get budgets under control in the long-term if we don’t improve our health as individuals and as a nation. Being healthy starts with personal responsibility, but the Government also has a role to play. The recent Healthy Ireland survey showed that while obesity levels have stabilised, still some 60% of people are overweight or obese.

The food industry is well placed to play an important role in the ongoing battle against obesity. I see them playing a key part and leading by example. While I support the efforts being made on reformulation in the past, I would like to see this work moving at a quicker pace with clear targets and timelines for achievement over the next three to five years.”

“This FDII report is the first of its kind in the world,” said Paul Kelly, Director FDI. “Never before has the impact of reformulation on the diet of an entire nation been analysed. The commitment of food and drink companies to change recipes and introduce new products has had a significant and positive impact on the diet of Irish consumers.

Work has begun on phase two of the FDI reformulation project and we will see the results of the positive work conducted by FDI members in the report, due to be published in Q1 2018.

Dermot Doherty
Project Manager,
Food Drink Ireland Heath initiative,
Ph: 01 - 6051620

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