Consequences of Inactive Life for Children
Last month saw the first seminar from the Interactive Fitness and Exergame Network from LinkedIn at LIW. It goes to show that collaboration on the web can lead to real action, and there's more than enough passionate and dedicated professionals in this group to make something happen.
Although the focus of exergaming may be on video games, the real purpose of exergaming is to improve health. Child Growth Foundation and National Obesity Forum chair, Tam Fry, spoke at this seminar to illustrate the problem and the consequences for children.
Mr Fry warned the delegates that the "Childhood population looking at a very unhealthy and uncertain future" and outlined some of the evidence.
"From the University of Newcastle the figures are just 3 in a 100 children are doing the recommended 1 hour of exercise a day. Only 1 in 5 parents know how much exercise children should be taking. After 10 years of messages we have failed to get though to parents in a understandable way exactly what their children should be doing."
The message that activity is being ingored also leads to dire consequences, as Tam exaplained:
"One third of children not doing enough exercise to the level of risking coronary heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes. The only way back for some children is to cut them open at fit a gastric band. This should always be the third option, but is increasingly becoming the second or even the first option."
Mr Fry offered some explaination as to why the population is in such trouble, with two areas for improvement for government policy.
"Over the last 20 years parks have been sold off, allowed to run down or become total no-go areas. From the National Obesity Forum, we have a clear idea that video games which encourage activity are very important and we're fully behind it. But, to have not then opportunity for people to go out and be active is a pity. Children love to play, you should give them the space, if necessary supervise to a degree."
School PE is seen as very important in providing a front line service against childhood obesity, and it was suggested that PE techers should be on the frontline when it comes to monitoring child weight as well as physical education development. That would only be if there still were PE classes and PE teachers.
"25% of children coming into school going into primary school at the aged 4 are overweight or obese. Perhaps the biggest problem is what is not happening. What is not happening in school is that physical activity has been allowed to disappear."
The talk greatly informed the seminar and put into perspective the importance of what the group is doing and what success in the interactive fitness and exergaming sector means, not in monetary terms, but in human terms.
The majority of the presentations from the group that were included in the seminar can be found at the slideshare event http://www.slideshare.net/event/interactive-fitness-and-exergame-seminar