OVERCAUTIOUS parents are putting their children's health at risk, experts have warned.
Parents who are too focused on safety forbid their children from taking part in exercise – which then has a knock-on effect on their activity levels.
Experts have warned that a "surplus safety" attitude to child play – in relation to avoiding all risk, even minor risk, is preventing children from learning essential life skills.
Dr Catherine Woods, lecturer in exercise psychology and physical activity for health in DCU and Professor Donal O'Shea outlined the warnings for over 300 delegates at Early Childhood Ireland's conference in Croke Park at the weekend.
The conference entitled 'Happy, Healthy, Able – Are Irish Children Fit for Life?' heard that children today will have a life span five years shorter than their parents.
And more than 20pc of Irish children are currently overweight or obese and to tackle the scourge, a pilot growth monitoring programme will be rolled out in primary schools later this year as part of the school health check for five and six-year-olds.
UCD Professor of Public Health, Cecily Kelleher said there were "encouraging signs of stabilisation" in children, with weight levels showing decreases at the age of seven and stabilisation at nine.