According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, children from all backgrounds and abilities should at least have the opportunity to exercise on a daily basis, an ideal that is currently very far from reality as “the government have failed to implement a national policy to implement children’s exercise”.
The editorial states that despite mounting evidence that shows both the immediate and long-term benefits of regular exercise in childhood, leadership and strategy on the issue “are totally absent”.
While we do know that Britain’s child obesity epidemic is still growing to epic proportions, with news breaking earlier on this year that children as young as ten months old were being admitted to hospital because they are dangerously overweight, Tim Loughton, former Children’s Minister, has called the comments in the journal both unhelpful and alarmist.
Co-author of the editorial under scrutiny, Dr Richard Weiler, is a consultant in sport and exercise medicine at the University College London and the club doctor at West Ham football club. Speaking of the matter he told BBC Radio’s Today programme that persistent failure from this government to meet children’s basic physical and psychological needs, meets the government’s own definition of child neglect.
In response to the editorial Mr Loughton has said that while it is obvious we do need to do much more for kids and sport, making it a part of their growing up – this sort of sensationalist story is really unhelpful.
Sedentary lifestyles in our children can unfortunately lead to weight gain and in turn the development of more serious health concerns, both in youth and later on in life. However, a factor that is also often overlooked is the psychological impact. For overweight children who face prejudice and who do not feel comfortable or confident in their own skin, emotional issues and unhappiness can develop – demonstrating how excess weight can be a two-fold issue.
We would love to know your thoughts on this story. Where do you think the responsibility lies – with the government, with parents or both? Please let us know what you think by leaving your comments below.