PUPILS in nine out of 10 second-level schools are not getting the recommended two hours a week in physical education.
Leaving Certificate candidates miss out the most, as 94pc of schools report that they are falling short on the PE timetable for sixth years, closely followed by 93pc for fifth years.
And there has been a significant cut in PE provision for junior-cycle students with 90-91pc of schools not providing the minimum recommended time allocation – up from 83-86pc a few years ago.
Transition-year students fare best of all, although almost six in 10 are not getting the benefit of the minimum two hours a week dedicated exercise classes.
And the situation is getting worse, with the latest figures from a Department of Education survey that shows a deterioration from similar research in 2009 across all years.
The less-than-healthy picture is compounded by another finding, which shows that 30pc of second-level schools have a vending machine or sell "junk food" in the school shop.
Although, this represents an improvement from 35pc in 2009, it is a continuing cause for concern.
As the findings were released, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said that he would be advising schools on the appropriate use of vending machines in order to promote healthy eating.
Government departments, including Mr Quinn's own, are developing guidelines on the best way for schools to promote healthy eating.
Mr Quinn said he could not "dictate" to schools but believed "we can work together to also include healthy alternatives and the right information so that young people can make informed choices".
Mr Quinn added that the vast majority of primary schools were "doing great work when it comes to promoting healthy eating during the school day and these efforts are vital in our efforts to tackle the growing problem of obesity.
"I would like to see this good work continue into the post-primary sector."
The purpose of the recent survey was to gather data on a number of life skill-related issues in schools.
According to the survey, 99pc of all schools report they have an anti-bullying policy in place and that their students know what to do in the event of a bullying incident occurring.