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PE can resolve weighty issue

John Greene


We have to look after our teenagers better and that can start with consistent exercise policies in schools

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'We have come a long way in recent years on this issue and perhaps the next detailed study of our children and teenagers will show some improvement, but if all our schools are not on the same page when it comes to physical exercise then it seems there is still a way to travel.' (stock photo)

'We have come a long way in recent years on this issue and perhaps the next detailed study of our children and teenagers will show some improvement, but if all our schools are not on the same page when it comes to physical exercise then it seems there is still a way to travel.' (stock photo)

SPORTSFILE

'We have come a long way in recent years on this issue and perhaps the next detailed study of our children and teenagers will show some improvement, but if all our schools are not on the same page when it comes to physical exercise then it seems there is still a way to travel.' (stock photo)

Everything we know about Irish teenagers tells us that we need to do all we can to help them stay healthy and well. Yet our teenagers are putting on weight and developing health issues - physical and mental - which can become a much bigger problem for them as they get older.

Every study about the health and well-being of our young is telling us the same thing: they are not getting enough exercise and too many are heavier than they should be. Added to that, there are clear patterns too, such as the fact that girls are more likely to be overweight than boys, and that young people from lower income families are also more likely to be overweight.

The most recent data on this subject emerged over the summer in the latest update from the Growing Up In Ireland project, which has been tracking the development of thousands of children born in 1998. The children were first interviewed when they were nine years of age, and again when they were 13. Over 6,000 were again interviewed in their late teens, and the issue of obesity, which has been prevalent all through the project, remains a huge concern.