Friday 19 January 2018

Physically inactive Irish children given a D in damning report

Dr Sarah Jane Belton. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Dr Sarah Jane Belton. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Ireland's children have been given a Grade D score on an international scale of physical activity levels.

The marking is a slight improvement on 2014 when they managed only Grade D minus.

The grade was announced at the International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health in Bangkok, Thailand, where results of 38 countries from around the world were published.

It looked at barometers ranging from participation in organised sport, watching television and walking to school, to how the home, school, government and wider community support children in being active.

Read more: Adult-sized meals are can cause childhood obesity, parents warned

They received a Grade D based on five large studies across Ireland, which found that an average of just 25pc of young people reported being active for at least 60 minutes every day.

The Ireland report card was developed by a group of 12 researchers from the Republic and the North.

Dr Sarah Jane Belton, a lecturer in physical education at Dublin City University who was the Republic's principal investigator, said it was important to note that some progress had been made. "We are really pleased to see an improvement in overall physical activity in the 2016 report card," she added.

"It is a small increase from 2014, a Grade D minus to a D grade, but the important thing is that we have made a small step in the right direction."

Children in England and Wales scored a D minus.

But Slovenia's youngsters were given an A minus while New Zealand's picked up a B minus grade.

Dr Belton said: "We see they scored very highly for overall physical activity, but that they also scored highly for their school, and government strategies and investments indicators.

The indicators show that 'community and the built environment' was awarded a B plus grade, based on how parents and teenagers perceive the quality of facilities and safety of their neighbourhoods in Ireland.

But the school setting was given a D grade which is a slight fall on 2014 as fewer than 40pc of children receive the amount of physical education recommended by government.

Active play, home, government strategies and investments were given an inconclusive grade again as data or a clear benchmark does not exist to make a full assessment.

When it comes to organised sport participation, children in Northern Ireland did better than those in the Republic.

The report awarded the Republic a C minus and the North a C plus grade in this category, an increase on its previous C minus.

Irish Independent

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