Published: Tue, 20 May 2014
Sean Kelly MEP’s EU policy priorities for sport will help prevent worsening obesity rates across Ireland and Europe.
The former GAA President, who played a central role in developing the EU’s first ever sport programme valued at €300 million which will benefit all sport in Europe, says encouraging physical activity is vital to prevent current obesity levels becoming a major health crisis.
“There are currently 100,000 obese children in Ireland and 300,000 who are classed as overweight. If current patterns continue, there are concerns that almost half of adults living in Ireland could be obese by 2030. Ireland was ranked fifth highest in terms of the rate of childhood obesity, in figures released last year in a comparison of the then 27 EU Member States.” Mr Kelly said.
“Doctors and health care professionals have already warned that we have a very serious issue on our hands in terms of obesity and I believe sport has a vital role to play in addressing the problem.
“The EU under the Lisbon Treaty can and should serve as a vehicle to promote co-operation between bodies responsible for sports, and help to protect the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and women, and encourage more younger sportsmen and sportswomen to get active and stay active through sport as part of a healthy lifestyle.
“As a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Sport, I have already successfully lobbied to increase participation in sport especially among young people by garnering support for grassroots sports. In December 2010 I along with four other MEPs crossed national and party lines were successful in passing a Written Declaration on Support for Grassroots Sport, which set an ambitious target of 100 million Europeans more active, more often by 2020.
“Currently, 200 million out of Europe’s 500 million citizens are physically active on a weekly basis. I will promote policies to increase sport and physical activity by 100 million extra citizens by 2020 in order to have a healthier Europe.
“Sport is something I am truly passionate about and committed to, I am very excited about the new opportunities and possibilities on a European level now that sport has become a European Union competence which I will continue to support if re-elected on May 23rd,” the Ireland South MEP said.