Following the news that the government is going to publish a new strategy to tackle Ireland's obesity problem, it has been revealed that most teenagers have the heart of a 60-year-old.
This shocking statistic means that we are on our way to quickly becoming the fattest nation in Europe.
What can we do to tackle this?
The government seem eager to get on board with this problem, and the introduction of this strategy is encouraging. But the reality of the problem is even more discouraging.
Professor Niall Moyna told Sean O'Rourke recently on RTÉ Radio 1 about the research conducted at DCU which found that a group of 15- and 16-year-olds have the vascular age of 55 or 60.
The study was carried out on 90 students, who were categorised into three categories; high fitness, moderate fitness, and low fitness. Of the low fitness group, Moyna said the "arteries that supply blood to the brain had aged to the equivalent of an individual of 55 or 60 years of age".
He went on to provide some more shocking figures:
"85% of the low fit group were hypertensive ... high blood pressure. 62% are one step away from diabetes ... 90% of the low fit group were either overweight or obese".
Listen back to the interview here.
It is interesting to note that they "categorised them on fitness, and not weight". This means that your actual weight may not fully reflect what is going on inside.
He says it's time to "take action at a national level", as the "health is deteriorating".
When asked to explain the cause behind this damage, Moyna explained that they are, and have been, exposed to the risk factors, "they have the risk factors and are going to get clinical manifestation if they don't change their lifestyle .. probably [in their] 30s, 40s."
Niall Moyna says it's combination of both bad diet and lack of exercise, but also:
There's a disconnect. I don't think they understand the impact lifestyle has on their health today, and not tomorrow ... a hundred calories in an apple of the equivalent of a 100 calories in a can of coke, but they both do different things to your body".
Another important factor in this shocking statistic is the impact of technology. It is a combination of both diet and exercise, but nowadays so many kids spend the majority of their time sitting down. With the onset of technology being used for education and recreation, Moyna aptly says that:
"The digital revolution engineered activity out of our lives, and we need to think of a way to engineer it back into our lives".
While the government may be trying their best to tackle this problem, it is not up to them to fill your dinner plate full of healthy food of an appropriate portion size. As Moyna says, "we have to be innovative" to get our kids to understand the impact of this news.