Inside Out: Fat Chance; Give Us the Chance to Exercise More, Say Children as a Youth Debate Panel Identifies Poor Sports Facilities as a Major Factor in Today's Fat Epidemic. Penny Fray Reports

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), November 18, 2003 | Go to article overview

Inside Out: Fat Chance; Give Us the Chance to Exercise More, Say Children as a Youth Debate Panel Identifies Poor Sports Facilities as a Major Factor in Today's Fat Epidemic. Penny Fray Reports


Byline: Penny Fray

YOUNG people have finally spoken out in the child obesity debate that has been raging of late.

According to a number of teenage debates held throughout the region, 57pc of children aged 11 -16 admit that they have been spending up to two hours a day surfing the web and playing computer games, while only 23pc of those questioned exercised for an hour eachday.

But the children, mostly from Runcorn, were quick to point out why. During the heated conversation, one girl called Alexandra Baneman, 16, explains: ``I don't think it's an issue of kids being lazier than previous generations -it's because sport isn't accessible enough. There just aren't enough proper facilities for us either at school or in the community. Our PE lessons don't give us the option to choose the sports we really want to do, our local playing fields are being demolished and remaining outside in the street isn't safe. So what do we do? We go home and play computer games.''

Jake Newall, 11,agrees: ``Our local council built a fantastic skate park,but it got vandalised after a couple of days, so we went back to staying at home. What's the point of spending all that money, when it could be used on something like running supervised activities for kids?'' The HealthDevelopment Agency recently declared that one-in-five of the nation's 15-year-olds are ``dangerously overweight'', igniting a fierce debate about the state of the nation's young waistlines. Even 68pc of the children surveyed in the debates organised by Eurokids, a Cheshire-based holiday company, thought that young people today are more obese than they used to be.

THE couch- potato lifestyle led by today's teenagers has created a worrying 2 1st century trend, exacerbated by the powerful food manufacturing lobby advertising sugary and fattening products directly at the youthmarket. As Trupesh Mattani, 12, comments: `` When someone like Justin Timberlakeis advertising McDonald's,kids will go and eat loads of it. Our school dinners don't help either -it's always pizza and chips.'' Jonathan Williams, director at SHOKK, pioneers of youth gym equipment, agrees that children can find it difficult to find somewhere to exercise. ``We've built our youth fitness and lifestyle concept on the back of a strong demand from young people and parents, both during term times and in the holidays,'' says the Merseyside-born entrepreneur and fitness expert. …

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