Belfast Telegraph

MLAs measure up for major cuts

Politicians would normally run a mile before publicly declaring they plan to waste pounds and make major cuts, but now more than 20 MLAs have agreed to do all three.

Assembly members from all the executive parties signed up to an eight week fitness programme aimed at improving their lifestyles. Cross-party co-operation will be the key to success as the total weight lost by the group will be made public every week.

The initiative was organised by safefood - the body responsible for promoting healthy eating and food safety across Ireland. It forms part of its two-year, all-island awareness campaign called "Stop the Spread", which urges people to measure their waist to see if they are overweight.

Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew and the DUP's Jim Wells were two of the MLAs who jumped on the scales at the launch in Parliament Buildings, Belfast.

"Obesity and excess body weight is a significant public health issue in the six counties today," said Health Committee chair Mrs Gildernew.

"Politicians, as well as the public, need to be aware of the dangers associated with being overweight, including the risk of long-term conditions such as diabetes and heart disease."

Mr Wells, who is deputy chair of the Health Committee, added: "As politicians, we can all play our part in promoting public health in Northern Ireland, including addressing the issue of weight and this starts at our own table."

Safefood's Director of Human Health and Nutrition, Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan said: "Working long hours, the stress of balancing a job with finding time to fit in be active and eating at irregular times are all issues facing many people right across society today.

"It's wonderful to see this group of well-known faces in Northern Ireland politics agreeing to participate.

"Not only will this group hopefully lose weight and become healthier, they are sending out the message to everyone that reaching a healthy weight is extremely important and achievable."

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