The new president of the Faculty of Public Health, Professor John Ashton, has called for parents to be banned from driving to the school gate to help tackle the inactivity crisis and the growing problem of child obesity.
Ashton has also called on cities to be re-engineered to address the aspects of modern life that are helping grow obesity.
It’s a startling problem. According to the Government, most people are overweight or obese in England. 30 per cent of those are children between two and 15 years of age. Needless to say, those that are overweight have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. The NHS spends more than £5 billion every year on health problems associated with being overweight or obese.
While not explicity mentioning cycling, Ashton has opened a debate that could clearly benefit cycling numbers.
Sustrans health director, Philip Insall said: “Too many of the UK’s children are overweight or obese and the decline in walking and cycling to school is a major contributor to the inactivity epidemic.
“The average journey to secondary school is just 3.5 miles and for primary school it’s only 1.5 miles – distances that could easily be walked or made by bike for a healthy start to the day.
“Banning the school run might be a step too far, but it is critical that traffic speed and volume is addressed so it is possible for more children to walk and cycle their local journeys.
“Slower speeds and improved cycle training are key to making our roads safer, but so is a change in thinking – the car should no longer be king in our towns and cities.”
Sustrans is among those calling on the government to make cycle training part of the national curriculum.