Child activity level to be rated globally
on 21/10/2013 00:00:00
A panel of Irish researchers has now begun the process of delivering Ireland's first such report card, with the results expected early next year.
At a recent conference held in Dublin by the Institute of Public Health, Deirdre Harrington of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, University of Leicester, outlined how the report card grading system works elsewhere and how it can be applied here.
The researchers hope that, by applying grades that can then be compared to those in other countries using the same system, it will influence policy makers and government to take the necessary steps to improve levels of physical activity and health in children and young people.
Dr Harrington referred to numerous studies that have been conducted here in recent years, such as the 'Growing up in Ireland' study and the 'Children's Sport Participation and Physical Activity' study.
However, the data pulled from different sources has not been aggregated to arrive at overall grades that could then be compared with similar levels in other countries.
Sarahjane Belton of Dublin City University's Health and Human Performance Department is one of 12 members of the research work group that will decide on Ireland's grade in time for a global conference on physical activity being held in Toronto, Canada, next year.
She said the panel - which also includes experts from CIT, UL, and the ESRI - would be meeting before the end of the year to finalise a first draft report card.
She said the current indications were that Ireland was not doing well, with an expectation that our national scores will not better those of Canada's.
"We will assign a different grade to each of the different variables," she said, "starting with physical activity."
The group hopes to have finalised the report card by March or April next year, having liaised with their counterparts in Canada.
On the long-term future of the plan she said: "It more than likely will be every two years," citing a lack of funding and depth of existing data to allow for an annual report card.
Dr Harrington told the IPH conference that a report card could help facilitate fresh policies by aligning public health documents and opening up the possibility of a National Physical Activity Plan.
She said it could also allow experts to monitor the progress of physical activity promotion efforts, identify key needs and gaps, allocate funds and develop activity promotion initiatives.