Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lack of outdoor play is health time bomb for children

16.08.2006
Unless more suitable outdoor play opportunities are provided for children and young people, a physical and mental illness time bomb is likely to explode, an international conference in Bristol was told.

“As councils cut their spending on outdoor spaces and society encourages physical idleness, obesity is becoming an epidemic. Young people now face heart problems, diabetes and other diseases because of their sedentary lifestyles. This puts them at risk of premature death and confronts the NHS with a rocketing bill,” said Professor Lamine Mahdjoubi, from the University of the West of England, who chaired the conference.

Children are denied the opportunities for playing out of doors that previous generations took for granted. Delegates heard moving testimony from four mothers from Glasgow who contrasted their experiences of playing in the street with the restrictions placed on children in the city today.

“The streets are unrecognisable from our youth,” said Marie Forsyth, of the parents' group To play or not to play. “Now, they are full of traffic, and play spaces are desolate and scarred by drug-taking. We were poor but at least we had a childhood.”

Surveys of children and young people reveal they are increasingly dissatisfied with their outdoor environments and many of them would prefer to spend time in healthy activities, if only more were available. Fears about health, safety and litigation have resulted in councils trying to minimise the risks of public spaces, leading to unchallenging playgrounds that do not appeal to young people.

However, now is the time to act, with improving urban spaces and tackling childhood obesity increasingly on the government agenda. Delegates at the conference – which brought together parents' lobbying groups and experts on planning policy, safety, transport, health, food and physical activity, and the psychological impacts on children unable to socialise out of doors - shared views on overcoming barriers to outdoor play. They identified the need to assess the socio-cultural as well as physical benefits of outdoor play; the need to measure the way our environment encourages idleness; and found that design can be used to encourage a diversity of activities.

They found that open spaces were more cost-effective than indoor fitness centres, and were of benefit to a wider range of people. Fitness facilities tend to be exclusive, typically appealing to a segment of the population aged 18-45 who can afford membership and can travel there by car. In contrast, outdoor recreation areas appeal to a wider range of social and age groups and are usually accessed by foot. Investment on urban parks and open spaces dropped from 44% of local authority spending in 1976/7 to 31% by 1998/9.

“Open urban spaces cost £600 million to run for 2.5 billion visits,” said Lamine. “In contrast, the fitness culture costs £400 million for 100 million visits and 80% of customers use their cars to get there.”

Keynote speaker Professor Dick Jackson, an adviser to President Bush and Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on the impact of the built environment on health, warned that the UK was fast catching up with American levels of childhood obesity and that mental illness can be directly attributed to poorly designed neighbourhoods. Highways planning still dominates urban design and new housing developments, and the biggest single impact on children's freedom has been the rise of the car and the subsequent lack of connection between home, street and neighbourhood.

“This is a subject that affects us all,” continued Professor Mahdjoubi. “The cost of obesity will have to be met ultimately by society – it is a time bomb waiting to go off, like climate change.”

Lesley Drake | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uwe.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Cystic fibrosis alters the structure of mucus in airways
28.06.2017 | University of Iowa Health Care

nachricht Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders
28.06.2017 | University of California - Davis

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>