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Thursday, 27 August 2009

Childhood obesity – prevention is better than cure

I fully support this article by Sustrans Cymru.

To maintain good health and keep obesity at bay and other serious illnesses in later life, it is recommended that children have at least 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day, such as brisk walking, running, or cycling. But, research suggests that currently only around half of seven to 11 year olds manage to do this. So it's essential to get kids moving. And the journey to and from school is the perfect place to start. We know that, particularly in deprived areas, many parents are scared to let their children go outside because the roads are so busy. That is why we are in favour of 20mph zones in urban areas, and specifically around schools in Wales.

The number of children travelling to school by car has doubled over the last 20 years. Getting youngsters into the habit of cycling to school has obvious environmental benefits, and of course, helps with the fight against childhood obesity too. That’s why the Bike It project being trialled in three areas in Wales is such a good idea. It helps to establish cycling to school as part of a routine, not a one-off occurrence.

There is no precise figure of how much obesity costs the NHS, but every year the health service spends at least £2 billion on treating ill health caused by poor diet. Estimates indicate that, if current trends continue, at least one fifth of boys and one third of girls will be obese by 2020. Therefore the cost to the health service is likely to increase unless measures are put in place to halt this growing problem.

We need now, more than ever, to be focussing on preventing childhood obesity. We know that parents want to do the best for their children and getting them out of the car more is certainly one way of doing so.

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