A STAGGERING 3.2 million children are not doing enough exercise to meet government health guidelines, says the Confederation of Australian Sport
Twenty five per cent of five to 17 year olds are now overweight/obese and 80 per cent of children do less than one hour of physical activity a day.
COAS, a not-for-profit advocacy group, is calling on the federal government to pour millions into community sport to fight the flab.
“The answers lie in community sport,” says confederation CEO Rob Bradley.
“It’s strong but it needs boosting.
“We want to see a jump in the number of people meeting physical activity guidelines by 15 per cent over a five year period.
“We can’t afford not to do this.”
Mr Bradley argues that a major campaign linking health, education and sport could see 70 per cent of Australia’s population meeting physical activity guidelines within 15 years.
“New modelling shows that if we reduced physical inactivity by 15 per cent, we could eliminate 10,000 cases of disease, 3,000 deaths and save $434 million per year,” he says.
“The modelling has been undertaken by Deakin Health Economics.
“We need a vital partnership with schools in WA.
“If the responsibility for children’s physical activity was shared between parents, schools and community sport, it’s more likely to be achieved.”
Dennis Yarrington, president of the Australian Primary Principals Association’s, agrees: “A coordinated approach with the health and sport sectors could reap enormous benefits for children’s personal health and wellbeing,” he says.
“The development of physical literacy skills and knowledge is vital for ensuring the future personal health and wellbeing of every child.
“Initiatives are underway now to develop the best way to upskill and engage teachers to maximise physical activity opportunities for children in the school environment.”
Mr Bradley estimates that $230 million is needed to kickstart the exercise initiative.
“We are talking in investing in Australia’s future and in the health of our children,” he says
“What could be more important?”