IRELAND'S youngsters are on the brink of becoming a "lost generation" due to ill-health and poor fitness, a senator has warned today.
Former Olympian athlete Eamonn Coghlan -- who was appointed to the Seanad in May -- said the country will be hit by a "tsunami-like epidemic" unless physical education is reformed in schools.
He slammed young people's obsessions with the "virtual world" as well as an "ignorant diet" as posing enormous risks to their long-term healths.
In a report published today entitled Points For Life -- Primary Fitness For A Healthy Life, Senator Coghlan launched a strong attack on the health system for failing to "nip the problem in the bud".
"Life has changed due to a multitude of very sad reasons. Even shockingly, children can't simply enjoy the pleasure of running around a school yard any more because of insurance issues. What is society coming to?"
The report added: "Life has changed because people are becoming less healthy and less physically fit.
"The focus is more on curing the sick at high non-sustaining costs to the State, rather than developing preventative measures."
Senator Coghlan -- who was one of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's seven Seanad appointees -- told the Herald that the issue is on the verge of becoming a "crisis".
According to research by the senator, the percentage of Irish children now obese is as high as 27pc and rising.
He found that a significant 68pc of schools were unable to implement the physical education curriculum in full due to issues such as a lack of facilities.