5 times more girls drive than cycle to school

The country’s leading expert on obesity has revealed that five times more schoolgirls drive to school than ride a bicycle.

With a quarter of all three-year-olds classed as obese, consultant endocrinologist, Professor Donal O’Shea, who features in the RTÉ series The Obesity Clinic, has warned a generation of parents could end up burying their children in the future.

And he blames a drastic drop-off in day-to-day physical activity coupled with the rise in convenience food and soft drinks for the dramatic rise in the weight of the average Irish child in recent years.

Professor O’Shea, who runs the country’s only public weight management clinic at St Columcille’s Hospital in Dublin, said Irish parents are largely oblivious to the seriousness of the weight gain in their children.

He said: “If we don’t act then a lot of this generation of parents will be burying their kids. I don’t think the seriousness of it has really hit home.

“Parents are poor at recognising an overweight child. The mother is better than the father. What we’re seeing in terms of the patients coming to our clinic is that they are getting younger and bigger.

“The numbers dying will go up and the age at which they are dying will come down.”

* The Obesity Clinic will be shown on RTE One tonight at 9.35pm

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