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School run ban may be anti-obesity step too far

Banning parents from driving their children to schools in a bid to reduce childhood obesity may be “a step too far”, Britain’s leading public health expert has been warned.

Professor John Ashton, who has taken over as president of the Faculty of Public Health, said that if parents must drive their children to school they should have to drop them off a few hundred yards away so children get a small amount of exercise.

In an interview with The Times, Prof Ashton said fears of a “nanny state” should not stand in the way of strong government action to improve health.

But Justine Roberts, chief executive of Mumsnet, said there would be a “mixed reaction” from parents struggling to find a practical way to manage the proposal.

And sustainable transport charity Sustrans said addressing traffic speed and volume, rather than banning the school run, was “critical” in allowing more children to walk or cycle to school.

Prof Ashton told the Times: “We’re used to the idea that our children are not going to be as well off as we have been. But I don’t think anybody has really expressed yet that they may not be as healthy either.

“One of the things we really should be doing is strictly prohibiting cars stopping outside school to drop kids off but have drop-off points, if at all, a few hundred yards away so at least the children get to walk a quarter of a mile each day from the dropping-off point … it would make a difference.”

He also praised efforts by councils to ban fast food outlets near schools.

The latest figures suggest one in three children is overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.

Prof Ashton, who is director of public health in Cumbria, added: “We have had 100 years of progress in statistics of longevity and health and wellbeing, and there is evidence now that things are stalling.

“The golden generation, now in their 90s, have really benefited from traditional lifestyles - walking to school and work, not going everywhere in the car, not having junk food - but that has been coupled with the benefits of modern medicine.

“What we’ve now got is generations coming through where there has been a deterioration of lifestyles.”

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Readers' comments (9)

  • There is NO way I dont drive my kid to school !

    I drive her right to the gate and wait until she is inside too!!

    WHY??? Because in this day and age with so many kids being abducted and murdered I would rather she was FAT than dead
    This guy is an idiot

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  • PS

    And by the way .........you dont get to tell me how to raise my child,what the schools get to do is educate kids to make the right choices .....THATS IT .........END OF!!

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  • human rights?

    freedom of choice?

    democracy?

    ever heard of these?

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  • Anonymous 2.15 pm, where are all of these child abductions and murders that you allude to? I doubt that there are more today than there have been in the past. Children need to be educated on personal safety; how to cross the road safely; not to accept sweets/ toys from strangers; not to go off with strangers, but the biggest danger to children are not strangers but people known to them.
    The irony is that parents justify driving their offspring to school because of traffic levels, ehen most of the traffic is parents taking their children to school. Walking to school by themselves should not be a problem for year 6 children. However, I do not agree that the school run should be banned.

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  • Anonymous | 4-Jul-2013 8:30 pm

    some areas are probably safer than others?

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  • A new FDA approved diet pill called Belviq just went on the market. People who take Belviq with diet and exercise were 2 times more likely to lose 5% body weight and 3 times more likely to lose 10% body weight than the people who just did diet and exercise alone. The label states that if you do not lose 5% of your body weight in 12 weeks then consider stopping. Those that do respond in 12 weeks go on to lose over 10% of their body weight in one year. Losing 22 pounds for a 220 pound man is life changing. So comments about average weight loss are misleading and incorrect since over 45% of the patients lost a significant amount of weight.
    Belviq makes you more likely to succeed because it helps you feel full more quickly, reduces cravings, and helps control "food issues". It is not a 'magic pill', it merely helps people willing to diet and exercise more likely to succeed.
    Belviq has a second mode of action to reduce blood sugar which may end up preventing diabetes in many cases. Diabetics and pre-diabetics who took Belviq, regardless of weight loss, saw their blood sugar numbers drop by double digit percentages. IE HbA1c -0.9 to -1.2 and fasting glucose feel -27. The cost of medications to reduce HbA1c levels exceeds the cost of Belviq. (seeArena's BloomDM phase III trial) These reductions in diabetic symptoms plus the weight loss at the same time makes Belviq a medical bargain.
    With an estimated 40 million new cases of Diabetes expected over the next 10 years at a cost of over $400 billion per year to the US Health Care System, and the associated heart disease, strokes, blindness and amputations, any tool that will prevent this preventable disease from ballooning is a good tool to have. People who are borderline diabetic may benefit a great deal from Belviq whether they lose a lot of weight or just a little.

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  • I think that if children live within reasonable walking distance from school they should walk or cycle. Driving them is unnecessary and only causes an increase in traffic and pollution. The amount of abductions is negligable and parents cannot wrap their children in cotton wool, as Anonymous | 4-Jul-2013 8:30 pm says, children need to be educated in how to take care of themselves, be that crossing the roads safely or not talking to strangers.

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  • Anonymous | 5-Jul-2013 9:42 am

    The amount of abductions is negligable???
    One is too many!!
    I guess if it was your child you might actually understand that !
    I agree that kids need to educated about not talking to strangers etc but lets face it if some psycho paedo wants to overpower a kid they can and will.

    Its the complacency in this country that allowed the cover up of Jimmy Savilles activities to go on for so long and so many kids in care to be abused for so long!!

    Its people like you that allowed this to happen.

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  • I think it is up to parents to decide according to their family's individual circumstances.

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