Saol Nua

Obesity currently costs the Irish healthcare system €2.7 billion annually. In Ireland, 61% of all adults and 25% of 3-year-olds are overweight or obese. Factors underlying this epidemic extend far beyond diet with only 1 in 5 children meeting the physical activity guideline of 60 minutes per day.

Early investment in preventative programmes is more cost effective than later remediation. Although national initiatives such as Healthy Ireland have been outlined, such measures frame tentative blueprints however they do not take the preventative and holistic lifestyle redesign approach needed. Saol Nua would be a new initiative that tackles the growing obesity epidemic through innovative technology and health promotion to prompt a permanent cultural & lifestyle change.

Saol Nua is a programme designed to provide a continuous and connected health education experience for everyone from the start. It can take both a linear and cyclical pattern as it continues into old age but you also begin a new cycle if and when you have children where you begin to move with them through their life stages. 

Saol Nua’s foundations are based on an educational programme developed by an advisory body of health professionals, in which community health guides will be trained to facilitate the local community events that will be life stage specific. These educational events provide fun and new ways to incorporate health and balance into the lives of every Irish person. The life stage specific events will promote physical, social, cognitive and emotional development in relation to each person coinciding with the encouragement of healthy lifestyles. 

Once brought through to policy level; this educational programme will be incentivised via tax breaks and penalty enforcement for non-compliance of a 1% fine on source of income per class missed for the subsequent year. To nurture the desired cultural change, a vast and dynamic approach has been taken in regards to the communication with the public to continually promote a healthy lifestyle. This will be done through mass media campaigns and advertising. 

In addition to the educational branch of the intervention, specific technology will also be developed to support individuals in a tangible manner for self-directed health care. To cater for this and truly foster positive lifestyle changes each Limerick household will be provided with a lifebase device. It will enable access to contextual information matched to one’s profile giving access to recipes, local activities, as well as focused nutritional and physical information necessary for healthy lifestyles. The family lifebase will be brought to the monthly classes, and afterwards used as a tool to promote what has been discussed in the class. Lifebase offers a technological system which provides an opportunity to keep health and balance a key focus of our ever evolving lifestyles. 

 Key stats/figures taken from following sources:

  1. Boland, M. and Murphy, J. (2012)The economic argument for the prevention of ill‐health at population level; For Working Group on Public Health Policy Framework Accessed at: http://www.dohc.ie/consultations/closed/yourhealth/Economics_of_Preventi...
  2. The Department of Health (2013) Healthy Ireland – A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2030 Accessed at: http://www.dohc.ie/publications/pdf/HealthyIrelandBrochureWA2.pdf?direct=1
  3. Safe Food (2014) Childhood Obesity Accessed at: http://www.safefood.eu/Childhood-Obesity/Facts.aspx