Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Fighting the Flab for a Fitter Future

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Fighting the Flab for a Fitter Future

Article excerpt

A SURVEY involving hundreds of kids on Teesside shows a staggering number can't swim or ride a bike. Health reporter SARAH JUDD investigates IT SEEMS to be a familiar story, as another survey reveals children prefer to spend time watching TV or playing video games than exercising.

But the latest shocking study, involving 1,500 children from "steel towns" including Teesside, claims a number can't swim, ride a bike and have never run a distance of 400 metres.

The study, by Tata Steel and British Triathlon, uncovers a generation who are turning their backs on sport, in favour of surfing the internet, chatting on social networking sites and playing video games. It revealed 15% of children could not swim, 10% had not learned to ride a bike and almost a quarter had never run a distance of 400 metres.

A third of those questioned said they did not own a bike - yet two thirds had a mobile phone and 75% had a games console.

The damning statistics come just two months after a new pounds 700,000 cycle circuit opened in Middlesbrough as part the Healthy Towns project.

Pupils from Ormesby School joined cyclists from Cleveland Wheelers and Stockton Wheelers to show other children how keeping fit and riding on two wheels is done, as they completed the inaugural lap of the new track. Apart from the new bike track, other projects resulting from the healthy towns project, which saw Middlesbrough Council awarded pounds 4m to Make Middlesbrough a Healthier Town, successfully got kids away from their TV, smartphone and computer screens and into youth dance troupes, gardening groups and running races. Yet despite such successes, Tata's survey, to coincide with a mini triathlon event at Saltburn Leisure Centre on Thursday to encourage children to be more active, still paints a damning picture of the health of our kids - and their attitudes to exercise.

The latest figures from the NHS Information Centre also show that in the last school year, more than one in five year six pupils in Middlesbrough (21.6%) were obese. The percentages of obese children of the same age - 10 to 11 - in Redcar, Stockton and Hartlepool were also 20. …

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