Ireland’s “PC culture” is letting irresponsible parents believe their children’s obesity is caused by a hidden genetic illness instead of their diet.

A GP has claimed that Irish parents are “hiding” behind ‘obesity is a disease’ labels. Dr Ruairi Hanley made his claims in response to the widespread belief that the country’s child obesity epidemic is caused by genetics.

Emphasising that no disease in medical history “requires you to eat a Big Mac”, Dr Ruairi Hanley has called for the Department of Health to give parents a firm reality-check.

Speaking to the Evening Herald, the Drogheda GP proposed a “fat tax” on junk food to prevent the real danger of today’s children “dying from strokes” in their 30s and 40s.

“The fact is that it’s easier for parents to hide behind the disease label and not take responsibility for their kids.


“While some people are obviously more genetically susceptible to it, obesity is not a disease. “If a fat tax was introduced, say if a big Mac was increased to €20, then you wouldn’t see anywhere near as many obese children.

And I don’t know of any disease that is completely dependant and requires you to eat a Big Mac,” said Dr Hanley.

“We live in a very politically correct society where you can’t say these things, you’re not allowed to be judgemental about parents because they can be very defensive about this. But then they continue to feed their children Big Macs.

“If they won’t do it for their kids, then the State has to get involved.”

Dr Hanley’s comments come in the wake of rising concerns over increasing child obesity.

National obesity expert and head of the obesity clinic at St Columcille’s Hospital Dr Donal O’Shea said that seeing schoolkids weighing close to 20 stone was now a common occurrence.

Dr Hanley added: “I met a Polish lady recently in a clinical capacity and she said she didn’t want her own child to turn out “like those Irish children” that she went to school with.

“You just don’t see obese children here who are from Eastern Europe,” he said.

Obviously there are some people who are genetically more disposed to becoming obese, but that’s not the case if you’re always feeding them Big Macs.


This is serious, and parents need to stop being so defensive and hiding behind claims obesity is a disease. Obesity is caused by poor diet and little exercise.

If it starts in kids, in their teens they can develop diabetes, in their thirties they can have heart attacks, and in their forties they can be dead from stroke.

But parents would prefer to claim their children have a genetic disease rather than admit their own failure to give them a healthy diet,” he said.

Source: Irish Independent, Ireland