Published: Tue, 04 August 2015
“In Ireland, only 19 percent of primary schoolchildren and 12 percent of secondary students meet the physical activity recommendations. In fact, recent studies have shown one in four Irish children to be unfit, overweight or obese.”
“Part of the blame for these shockingly low levels of activity amongst children has been blamed on too little sport during school – so PE time at school must be considered and increased going forward,” Seán Kelly MEP, a former school teacher told a recent Brussels conference on the physical inactivity crisis in Europe.
The Fine Gael MEP wants to see a greater level of public financing available to community sports organisations across Ireland and Europe in order to boost the physical activity of people of all ages for a healthier society. “The World Health Organisation estimates physical inactivity is associated with at least one million deaths per year in the European region”.
“In Ireland, physical inactivity is a leading cause in 8.8 percent of coronary heart disease cases, over 10 percent of type 2 diabetes cases, and is attributed to 15 percent of breast cancer and colon cancer cases in Ireland.”
“Aside from the obvious health consequences, physical inactivity and the related pressure on our health system costs Ireland about €1.5 billion per year in treatment.”
Worringly a recent WHO report predicted Ireland will become the most obese country in Europe by 2030 with the number of overweight Irish men expected to reach 89 percent and a corresponding 85 per cent of women.
Mr Kelly suggests the community-led sports clubs and initiatives can play a role in reversing this trend, with help from national and EU level:
“In Ireland, the GAA, FAI, IRFU, walking groups, playgrounds, parks, youth groups and much more have a role to play in getting all members of society active and involved to keep fit. These organisations should be supported in rolling out initiatives in their locality and be involved in awareness-raising campaigns.
“People’s lives are literally at risk due to physical inactivity. Keeping fit with even 30 minutes of exercise a day can transform our physical and mental well-being and must become part of our everyday routines in future,” Mr Kelly added.