Safefood Urges Parents To 'Bring Back Play'

As part of the campaign to take on childhood obesity, safefood is urging parents to 'Bring Back Play' and encourage their children to be more active every day.

At present, four out of five Irish children do not meet the physical activity guideline of being active for at least 60 minutes a day. The latest advertising for the campaign is emphasising the value of including physical activity whenever families can and that all activity adds up towards the recommended 60 minutes a day for children.

Supporting the call to 'Bring Back Play', Professor Niall Moyna, Centre for Preventive Medicine at the School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University said: "Worryingly, most children are not getting enough physical activity and 3 out of 4 adults don't get enough either.

"However we also know from research that children are more likely to be more active if their parents are active as well. This is one of the great life skills that parents can pass on to their children, as well as being something they can participate in themselves.

"For children, being active for 60 minutes doesn't have to be all in one burst nor does it have to be organised sport - it could be 10 minutes skipping, 15 mins running or kicking a ball - it all adds up. Any amount of activity is better than none."

At present, approximately one in four primary school children are overweight or obese. The prevalence of excess weight is also beginning earlier in childhood, with 6% of three-year-olds currently being obese.

"We also know that being active is critical to children's physical and mental development. Encouraging play is easier than we think and is a great way of spending fun time together as a family," Professor Moyna continued.

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood added: "All activity especially playing in the garden or playground, active games like hide and seek or organised sports - they all count. Active play for children is instinctive; we just need to 'bring it back'.

"Our childhood obesity campaign provides parents with advice on practical changes they can make for their families' health. Incorporating activity into your daily routine, for example promoting active ways for children to travel to school, is key to success.

"Children who get their 60 minutes plus daily have healthier sleep and eating habits too. And with the clocks going forward this weekend, it's also a great time of the year to start new family habits."

The three-year, all-island campaign to take on childhood obesity by safefood in partnership with the HSE and Healthy Ireland Framework in the Republic of Ireland and the 'Fitter Futures for All' Implementation Plan in Northern Ireland, urges parents to make practical changes to everyday lifestyle habits which would make a big difference to their children's future health.

The campaign also reminds parents about the negative health impacts of excess weight in childhood and how this can impact on a child's quality of life.


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