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  • Northside East

Junior parkruns could help reduce childhood obesity

Monday, 11th December, 2017 1:00pm
Junior parkruns could help reduce childhood obesity

Children pictured taking part in the inaugural junior parkrun in Holywell, Swords. See more photos on Page 17. PHOTO: CODY GLENN/SPORTSFILE

Junior parkruns could help reduce childhood obesity

Children pictured taking part in the inaugural junior parkrun in Holywell, Swords. See more photos on Page 17. PHOTO: CODY GLENN/SPORTSFILE

Shauna Bowers

JUNIOR parkruns could be a method of reducing childhood obesity, according to a Swords local.

Sinead Davy launched a junior parkrun in Holywell, Swords, on December 3 that will run every week and is free for everybody to take part in.

“My five-year-old girl wanted to get into running and there were no parkruns (for that age group) in the Swords area so I thought I would set one up,” Ms Davy told Northside People. 

“Around 100 kids finished the race and there was so much enthusiasm and so many volunteers. It’s something that I hope will grow.”

Ms Davy believes that having parkruns could be a great way to encourage children to get active because it challenges them. 

“They can help each other, make friends and try to better their personal bests,” she said.

Participants also receive a wristband when they complete 11, 21 and 50 runs which Davy believes is a great incentive for young people. She believes that one of the biggest obstacles to tackling childhood obesity is the cost which is why the parkruns are free.

“It’s a free, weekly 2k run which is community based. This is why we need volunteers to help so that it can continue to be free,” she added.

The parkrun initiative has proved to be hugely popular since its inception with events taking place in a number of local parks including Kenure Woods in Rush, Ardgillan Castle in Balbriggan, Malahide Castle and Newbridge Demesne in Donabate.  

The launch of the Holywell junior parkrun follows the publication of research by the Food Safety Promotion Board, Safefood, which showed that one in four children in Ireland are overweight.

Local Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee (FF) is calling for a multifaceted approach to tackling the increase in childhood obesity.

“Childhood obesity remains one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century and one which varies considerably in accordance with socio-economic status,” she said.

“The lifetime cost of obesity to the State has been estimated at approximately €4.6 billion in direct and indirect costs and this is set to increase unless it is promptly addressed. It also has major negative consequences in terms of quality of life issues. 

“The long-term solution to childhood obesity must be multifaceted and include the promotion of physical exercise and tougher restrictions on the advertising of high fat, high salt and high saturated fat foods which specifically target children.”

Senator Clifford-Lee said the ESRI, ‘Growing Up in Ireland’ study which was released recently, shows that 20 per cent of children who live in the lowest income bracket are overweight while 7 per cent were classified as obese. 

“The need to address the gap between better off and less advantaged children has never been more apparent and it is crucial that we target resources at lower socioeconomic schools and communities,” she added.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here