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HSE reveals how many unhealthy snacks you can have a week - and Irish people are eating way too many

By Brian Dillon

The HSE has said that Irish people need to "drastically" reduce the amount of unhealthy snacks they consume, with a large portion of the population eating far more than they should.

The health body revealed that over one in three Irish adults devour two or more unhealthy snack foods daily with a further 24% having one unhealthy snack daily. According to The Irish Healthy Food for Life guidelines, this should be limited to "sometimes and only in small amounts – not every day, a maximum of once or twice a week".

This comes after Dr Donal O'Shea, who is the HSE clinical lead on obesity, said that meal deals in convenience stores should be "illegal".

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He told Newstalk: "Those buy one get one free offers are always around the high fat, high salt, high sugar stuff, never around fruit."

He voiced his concerns after The World Health Organisations found that the Covid-19 pandemic prompted a spike in unhealthy eating habits.

Dr O'Shea explained that Ireland is at a "tipping point" when it comes to obesity in the country.

According to Healthy Ireland, three out of five adults in Ireland and one in four children are overweight or obese. It also states that Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of overweight and obesity in men in the EU and the seventh highest prevalence among women.

The HSE says that excess consumption of highly processed foods and foods high in fats salt and sugar (vegan or otherwise) and low consumption of vegetables and fruits are "leading risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity."

"Marketing, advertising and promotion all play a major role in food choices," the HSE said in a statement to Dublin Live.

"Many in-store meal deals involve price bundling and primary promotion of high fat, salt, sugar products with more nutritious foods. While healthier options like water or fruit within the meal deal may also be on offer – it is rare to see these as the primary focus of the meal deal promotion.

"This marketing practice influences consumers purchasing behaviour, resulting in the purchase and consumption of excess calories and less healthy foods. Over time this has a direct impact on health and wellbeing, contributing to poorer diet and the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and obesity."

Read more: 13 foods and drinks you should never keep in the fridge

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