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Children in hospital in Ireland - what do they eat and what do they weigh: a cross-sectional study

Aisling Flinn1, Alan P Macken123, Walter Cullen35, Des Leddin345, Colum Dunne35 and Clodagh S O’Gorman1235*

Author Affiliations

1 The Children’s Ark, University Hospital, Limerick, Ireland

2 National Children’s Research Centre, Dublin, Ireland

3 Centre for Interventions in Infection, Inflammation & Immunity (4i), Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

4 Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

5 Graduate Entry Medical School/Scoil Leighis Iontrála Iarchéime, Faculty of Education & Health Sciences/Dámh an Oideachais agus na nEolaíochtaí Sláinte, University of Limerick/Ollscoil Luimnigh, Limerick/Luimnigh, Ireland

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:491  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-491

Published: 6 September 2012



Overweight and obesity is a growing problem in Ireland. Many parents are unaware when their child is overweight or obese. Our objectives were to examine parents’ perceptions of a healthy diet and their children’s BMI; and to evaluate the food offered to children in our paediatric in-patient unit.


A retrospective questionnaire was distributed to 95 patients and their families admitted over one month. Seventy-eight had BMI values calculated (42 males, 36 females). Twenty-one children (26.9%) were overweight/obese: 14/21 parents (66.7%) thought their child had a normal weight. Sixty percent of children served dinner in the hospital were given fried potatoes. Four had fruit/vegetables. Forty-six parents brought food into hospital, of these 14 brought purchased food.


This study highlights the problem of child obesity in Ireland and parental underestimation of this problem. The nutritional value of food served to children in hospital needs to be improved and hospital admissions used as opportunities to promote healthy eating habits.

Overweight; Obesity; Children; Hospital; Nutrition