Dáil Éireann - Volume 510 - 16 November, 1999
Written Answers. - Youth Services.
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
245. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps, if any, he will take to deal  with a problem identified by the Director of Growth and Development Centre at the University of Limerick that youths are idling their way into serious health complications later in life due to the fact that activity levels and physical fitness among Irish children are the worst in Europe. [23360/99]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): I am unaware of the specific study referred to by the Deputy. However, recent information made available to me by the National Nutrition Surveillance Centre at NUI Galway based on a sample of 8,497 Irish school-aged children in primary and post-primary schools when compared with similar data from 28 other European and North American countries, shows that in relation to time spent exercising, Irish children rank about middle of all the countries surveyed. Earlier this year, the National Lifestyle Survey (Slan) commissioned by the health promotion unit of my Department was published. This shows that more than half of boys surveyed aged from nine to 17 years, participated in vigorous exercise four or more times a week. Of girls surveyed aged from nine-14 years more than half participated in vigorous exercise four or more times a week. However, there is evidence of a fall off in exercise levels in the girls' aged 15-17 years.
I am aware of specific recommendations in relation to young people and physical activity in Targeting Sporting Change, published by the Department of Education in 1997 and of the work being done by the Sports Council in implementing these recommendations in a planned and structured manner.
The recently published cardiovascular health strategy, Building Healthier Hearts, also calls for a greater emphasis on physical activity in the school setting for all ages and all levels of activity and I look forward to the implementation of these recommendations in the near future.
Dáil Éireann 510 Written Answers. Youth Services.