Terence Blacker: Generation Sloth - victims of a betrayal

Those not encouraged to take exercise at school will slip into idle adulthood

Share

Here is a small test for those politicians and civil servants who like to talk about "joined-up government". These two news stories have been released over the past few days. Can you see the connection between them?

1. The United Kingdom, according to the latest edition of The Lancet, is one of the most slothful countries in the world. A set of papers researching lack of exercise has revealed that, in Europe, the British are second only to the Maltese and the Serbs for physical laziness. A hefty 63.3 per cent of the population fail to take the recommended amount of exercise, compared with 41 per cent of Americans. Lack of exercise, the doctors argue, is a significantly larger threat to health than smoking.

2. There has been a 60 per cent decrease in the time devoted to sport in school since 2009/10 as a direct result of funding cuts. A survey of 150 local councils showed that there are 110 fewer School Sport Partnerships, a reduction of over a third before the cuts. All over the country, particularly in the North-east, the West Midlands and Greater London, significantly fewer schoolchildren are playing organised sport than a year ago.

You'd need to be wearing particularly heavy blinkers, or perhaps to work in government, not to see what's going on here. And not only are we more supine and fat-bottomed than comparable nations but, as the current generation of exercise-deprived children reaches adulthood, the situation will soon become worse.

Funding for School Sports Partnerships, cut by 69 per cent in 2010, is only guaranteed until 2013. With breathtaking gall, the Government has boasted that the emphasis is now on providing facilities for those in their late teens who have just left school – a neat manoeuvre which allows it to use Lottery cash while shifting the responsibility elsewhere. The policy is already failing. Those who were not encouraged to take exercise at school tend, unsurprisingly, to slip into idle adulthood.

It is a huge betrayal of our children. Exercise saves lives: according to the Lancet research, inactivity increases by up to a third the risk of heart disease, diabetes or some forms of cancer. Apart from the obvious health benefits, it helps people to live fuller, more energetic lives, physically and mentally.

Taking exercise is a habit of mind and body which should be part of any civilised education. For a government, run by the privileged and the privately educated, to deprive the vast majority of children of the chance to play organised sport at school is a matter of national shame.

terblacker@aol.com

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor’s Letter: The Easter message

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

There is far too much sexism in the UK - but a point scoring system against other countries won't help to tackle it

Victoria Richards
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit