Last time I discussed the book with Graham there were still copies available and you could obtain one by send a cheque for £6 - payable to Graham Watson MEP - to Bagehot Publishing, The Liberty, Old Kelways, Langport, Somerset TA10 9SJ. You can find the full contents in an earlier post on this blog.
… even after adjustments for meals eaten outside the home, and for consumption of alcohol, soft drinks, and confectionery, average per capita energy intake seems to have declined by 20 per cent since 1970.
We see sport as crucial to the nation’s health and well-being. With child obesity trebling in the past decade, it is time the Department of Health took a far greater role in promoting sport and active living.
Here’s the truth – children don’t want to play sport on badly-drained 1950s scraps of land. They want showers, fences and floodlights. They want quality facilities.
Research suggests that in 20 years the ‘home habitat’ of a typical eight-year-old – the area that a child can travel around on their own – has shrunk by nearly 90 per cent.
It is tempting to call for more child-only spaces and more vetting but the danger is that, in taking steps to meet the supposed dangers to children, the authorities will merely confirm to parents that those dangers are real and convince them of the rightness of their decision to limit their children’s freedom.
One can see such a process at work in an attempted solution like the ‘walking bus’. Under such schemes, children are walked to school in a group under the supervision of volunteer adult escorts. They can join the crocodile only at certain points, and at the end of the school day the bus drops them off at the same stops, where they are collected by their parents. The trouble with such schemes is that they give parents the message that the outside world is so dangerous that it is hard to blame them for deciding to drive their children to school instead.
Kids are having a hard time even playing neighbourhood pick-up games because they’ve never done it, observes Barbara Carlson, president and cofounder of Putting Families First. “They’ve been told by their coaches where on the field to stand, told by their parents what colour socks to wear, told by the referees who’s won and what’s fair. Kids are losing leadership skills.”
By 1996 over 6 per cent of school-aged boys in America were taking stimulant medication with more recent surveys showing that in some schools in the Unites States over 17 per cent of boys have the diagnosis and are taking stimulant medication. In the UK prescriptions for stimulants have increased from about 6,000 in 1994 to about 345,000 in the latter half of 2003.