The failure of UK governments past and present to bring in effective policy to encourage British children into exercise is tantamount to mass “child neglect”, a group of experts has said.
Despite the increasing evidence that children are more and more likely to be inactive, obese and unhealthy, leadership and long-term strategy on the part of government has been “totally absent”, they contest.
In an editorial for the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the group, which includes the sports doctor Richard Weiler, and West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce, point out that one in three children is leaving primary school obese.
“The minimal funding, lack of interest and absence of a child physical activity strategy strongly support the notion that the state is failing to act to prevent harm against children and failing to meet children’s basic physical needs likely to result in the serious impairment of their health and development,” they conclude. “This is quite literally indistinguishable from the government’s own definition of child neglect.”
A Government spokesman said that “decisive action” was being taken to improve children’s health, including ring-fencing a £450m fund for primary school sports.