Wednesday, February 27 10:13:32
If Minister Burton implements her plan to make employers pay the first 4 weeks of sick pay, it will cost employers E89m - thus making them pay for years of inactivity by the government on nutrition.
So says consultant nutritionist, Gaye Godkin who is this morning delivered a talk to employers at Dublin Chamber of Commerce in which she said that the Government's failure to introduce a National Nutrition Plan leaves us out of step with the rest of Western Europe.
"Irish people are drowning in a sea of glucose," she said.
Sick pay costs the Department of Social Welfare E900 million each year. Chronic illness accounts for 86pc of deaths in Ireland and this is driven by poor diet and negative lifestyle behaviours. Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, depression, cancer, muscoskeletal problems, heart disease etc are now epidemic in the Irish workplace," said Ms Godkin.
She was launching her workplace solution to this problem at a seminar held by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce today as part of National Employment Week.
Her topic, "Look After Your Number One Asset - Your Health!" was delivered as part of Dublin Chamber's "Competitive Edge Series 2013". This series of seminars and workshops was established at the beginning of 2011 with the aim of providing invaluable training to companies on a wide range of topics, from social media and PR to stress management and sales techniques. Attendees are provided with the opportunity to develop their skill sets and better their business in these areas.
Chronic illness and chronic stress leading to absenteeism is costing this country E1.5 billion each year which equates to 11 million days lost.
"The Irish diet is not good. Nutritional intervention plays a powerful role in preventing and combating the illnesses of the 21st Century. We are experiencing the double whammy of obesity and malnutrition and it is all down to negative lifestyle behaviours. This is not helped by confusion around what we should and should not be eating - and by the lack of non-biased nutritional information. It is a national shame that we do not have a National Nutrition Plan, unlike other Western European countries and the failure by successive governments to introduce one is costing the State and employers billions."
Ms. Godkin, who is a Public Health Nutritionist, is critical of Minister James Reilly's approach to health. "In Ireland, health is always talked about in terms of illness - very rarely do we see a preventive approach. She continues "The illness model of health-care is no longer serving us. This failure will place the burden on employers who now have to pro-actively introduce wellness programmes for their employees and tackle absenteeism from poor health, head on," she says.