IPH work highlights need for lower speed limits, reducing sugar sweetened drinks and increasing child activity
A new school year provides an opportunity for us to consider how best to protect the health and wellbeing of children. IPH work highlights 3 important public health messages focusing on the need for lowering speeds limits, reducing sugar sweetened drinks and increasing child activity.
IPH Interim Chief Executive Professor Roger O’Sullivan said
“Obesity, lack of physical activity and road safety are critical issues influencing the health of our children.”
In the Republic of Ireland (RoI) almost 25% of children are overweight or obese, while in Northern Ireland (NI) approximately 16% of children are overweight, and 9 % obese.
Professor O’Sullivan continued “There is no single cause for childhood obesity and action is needed in a number of areas; including physical activity, planning regulations, food and drink legislation.”
He added “Limiting speed limits to 20mph in residential areas and outside schools can reduce the risk of collisions between vehicles and children by up to 70%.”
IPH work highlights things we can all do this school year
Reducing speeds limits in residential areas and outside schools to 20mph offer protection to children who are at higher risk of injury and fatality on roads, particularly those living in disadvantaged communities. It increases the appeal and safety of their environment for walking and cycling to school.
Swap fizzy drinks for water
The World Health Organization guidelines state that free sugars should comprise less than 10% of our daily energy intake with reductions below 5% (approximately 6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits. One can of sugar sweetened drink (SSD) could take a child over their recommended daily sugar intake. There is a need to reduce the high consumption of empty calorie SSDs which are of no nutritional benefit to children.
Keep children active
Physical activity is a key factor in preventing obesity and obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. It can also help improve mental health and maintain strong bones. Walking or cycling instead of using motorised means to make routine journeys such as going to school, the shops or visiting friends helps increase physical activity. Both Departments of Health recommend all children and young people should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day. Physical activity levels across the island are low with around 25% of young people reporting being active for at least an hour a day.
IPH is an all-island body which supports cooperation on public health North and South to promote collective action for sustained improvements in health with a particular focus on addressing health inequalities.
The importance of active travel, both North and South, have been highlighted by the IPH active travel resources and the most recent all-island Physical Activity Report Card for Children.
IPH have made a significant contribution to research on obesity at a European level as part of the EU Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity (JANPA), and the EU Joint Action on Diseases and Promoting Healthy Ageing Across the Life-Cycle (CHRODIS) projects.
IPH has also contributed to all-island research on physical activity in younger people, such as the most recent Physical Activity Report Card for Children.
For further information, contact: Arlene McPhillips, IPH Communications Officer 07734903944