Time to kick schoolyard running ban if we want to dash obesity – Noone
Fine Gael Dublin Senator, Catherine Noone, has today (Wednesday) called for the ‘ban’ on children running in the school yard to be lifted to help tackle the nation’s escalating rates of childhood obesity.
“It is well documented that one in four Irish children are now overweight or obese. Bad diets of foods high in fat and processed sugar are a major factor, but so too is the growth in sedentary pursuits and lack of exercise. The problem has escalated to such a degree that Temple Street Hospital has had to bring in new larger theatre tables to cater for overweight and obese children.
“Last year, the EU Information Network found that Irish primary schools offered less Physical Education (PE) hours than any other EU Member State. On top of this, many schools have banned running in the yard at break-time, which is further curtailing children’s opportunity to exercise.
“While individual school management authorities must have a safety statement in place in their schools, there are no general directives to ban running in the school yard.
“According to the National Parent’s Council, many parents, whilst understanding safety and insurance concerns, feel that banning running in the school yard should be the last possible resort and that staggering break times should be considered as an alternative.
“It’s been shown that PE alone isn’t enough to make sure our kids are getting enough exercise. Irish primary school children are allocated just over half of the European Union average of 109 minutes of PE classes per week.
“As a result, break-time, with its allotted 40 minutes per school day, is a key period to target for additional exercise. While I appreciate that it is not always possible to eliminate all risks, it should nevertheless be possible for schools, with appropriate supervision, to manage breaks while allowing children to run in the schoolyard and get the crucial exercise they need for their health and well-being.”