An organisation representing dieticians has called on the Department of Health to develop a national strategy for childhood obesity prevention.
The Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute said today that there are only three obesity programmes for children in Ireland and that 73% of the country does not have access to such prevention courses.
The institute said approximately one in four or 30,000 primary school children are either overweight or obese.
The group has also called for the retail sector to withdraw their vending machines from schools.
The department said that tackling obesity was a priority for Minister James Reilly, who has set up a special action group to address the issue.
The department also said it has recognised that no single initiative will reverse the problem, but a combination of measures should make a difference.