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Northern Ireland children can be "Fit for the Future"

CSP press release published on 23 June 2010

It is estimated that 22% of primary school children in Northern Ireland are classed as overweight and obese(1).

To help parents and teachers get young children's health back on track, the CSP has teamed up with the British Dietetic Association (BDA) to roll out a number of Healthy School Days at primary schools across the UK and promote its Fit for the Future information leaflet. The events will see teams of chartered physiotherapists and dieticians visiting schools to provide expert advice to parents and teachers on exercise and nutrition. Health minister Michael McGimpsey MLA who attended the event said,

"As a society we have become increasingly inactive over the last ten years and this has brought with it an increase in obesity rates throughout the life course of the population. It is therefore vital that we continue to raise the public's awareness about the importance of regular physical exercise and healthy eating and encourage our children to form habits which will enable them to make healthier choices throughout their lives."

Commenting on the initiative, CSP policy officer Tom Sullivan said,

"Many children in Northern Ireland could face significant health problems in adulthood unless more is done to enable and encourage families to be more active. A study by researchers at the Universities of Newcastle and Glasgow has shown that as few as three in every hundred children are actually doing the recommended one hour of physical activity every day and further revealed that parents think their children get around two and a half hours exercise per day, when in fact they are physically active for less than 30 minutes."(2)

Andrea Black who led the event in Taughmonagh Primary School in South Belfast said,

"Physiotherapists are very concerned that as a society we are unknowingly putting children at risk of obesity and the development of life-threatening illnesses in the future because people are unaware of the role and importance of physical activity in preserving good health. If children start now, it'll be much easier for them to continue and see regular physical activity as the norm. We have tried to make the Healthy School Day fun and I really hope that more of the children will take exercise as a result."

Ends

Notes to editors

  1. Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (January 2007). Northern Ireland Health And Social Wellbeing Survey 2005/06 Topline Results - Childhood Obesity
  2. Newcastle University website (10 September 2008) Children's physical activity levels hugely overestimated

Please contact policy officer Tom Sullivan for more information: t 028 9044 6247, m 07779 651 939 or email sullivant@csphysio.org.uk

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