YOUR AM WRITES: South East Wales AM Mohammad Asghar
4:01pm Tuesday 13th August 2013 in News
Figures recently released by Public Health Wales reveal that childhood obesity is fast becoming a serious problem in Wales.
Nearly a third of five year olds in Wales are overweight with 12.5 per cent of children classed as obese.
Sadly, the figures reveal the problem in Wales is worse than in England or Scotland.
In South East Wales the statistics are alarming.
They show that one in eight four and five year olds in Gwent is obese. This average rises to nearly one in seven in Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.
It is clear we must do more to address this problem. Safe routes to school have a role to play to enable and encourage pupils to walk or cycle to school without the danger presented by road traffic.
We must not overlook the importance of physical education in promoting participation in sports and encouraging healthier lifestyles.
In an attempt to highlight how physical education can tackle rising childhood obesity levels I recently had the pleasure of donating sports equipment provided by McDonalds to Maindee Primary School.
I met with the Head Teacher, Mrs Nolan, and sports teacher Mr Ford to discuss efforts to encourage children to actively participate in sports.
I think it is only right that fast-food chains like McDonalds understand the problem we face and accept they can play a role in helping tackle this problem.
Maindee Primary School is particularly close to my heart. I was a Governor of this school when I was first elected as a Councillor and it has a very diverse community.
I sincerely hope that all the children get good use out of this equipment.
Unless we can interest children in taking up sport at school it is unlikely that they will do so as adults. This has considerable implications for their long-term health as we all know the benefits a healthy lifestyle can bring.
Dr Philip Dixon of the education union ATL Cymru, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Dr Laura McAllister of Sports Wales have all said it is now time to include physical education as part of the core curriculum to help tackle the appalling level of childhood obesity all over Wales.
I believe the Welsh Government should consider making physical education a core subject in any review it undertakes of the curriculum in Wales to tackle childhood obesity and to alleviate pressure on the National Health Service in the long term.