MORE government funding should be sunk into WA’s junior sport as a way of combating childhood obesity, according to the Confederation of Australian Sport (CAS).
CAS chief executive Rob Bradley said a quarter of five to 17-year-olds were now considered overweight or obese in Australia and recent studies had shown 80 per cent of children were not doing enough exercise to meet the health guidelines of 420 minutes a week.
He said millions of dollars needed to be put into WA sport to try to reverse the problem.
“The answers lie in community sport; it’s strong but it needs boosting and we want to see millions of dollars ploughed into sport,” he said.
“We want to see a jump in the number of people meeting physical activity guidelines by 15 per cent over a five-year period; we can’t afford not to do this.
“We need a vital partnership with schools in WA. If the responsibility for children’s physical activity was shared between parents, schools and community sport, it is more likely to be achieved.
“We estimate a minimum of $230 million is needed to start with for the first year but the returns begin to accrue almost immediately and we believe that the initiative will be completely paying for itself within 10 years.”
Mr Bradley said recent Deakin Health Economics modelling showed that by increasing physical activity by 15 per cent, 3000 deaths and 10,000 cases of disease could be avoided, as well as saving Australians $434 million a year.
Cockburn Basketball Association operations manager Graeme Pratt said they saw first-hand every day how much of an impact sport had on a child’s physical and mental health.
“It is extremely important to get children into sport for physical, mental and social health,” he said.