Lord Pendry sang the Seagulls’ praises as he brought up the problem of childhood obesity.
He reeled off statistics in the Lords debate about the growing problem of childhood obesity and he spelt out some of the steps being taken to tackle the issue.
He told fellow peers about various initiatives and added: “Football is also playing its part through the auspices of the Football Foundation, of which I am president.
“For example, Brighton and Hove Albion last year received more than £113,000 for a healthy living project.”
He lamented the sale of school playing fields, a subject that he raised when, as Tom Pendry, he was a Labour MP and Shadow Sports Minister.
At one point, BHASVIC’s playing field looked likely to be sold until a determined campaign saved it from development.
Lord Pendry said: “Too many people in this country are obese and far too high a proportion of them are children.
“Thirty per cent of girls aged between 2 and 15, and 31 per cent of boys, are classed as overweight.
“Of the girls, 16 per cent are obese, while for the boys the figure is 17 per cent.
“The figures are the result of a steady and worrying increase in recent years.
“In 1995 only 12 per cent of girls and 10 per cent of boys were obese, which means that there are now around 300,000 more obese girls and roughly 550,000 obese boys.
“The direct cost to the National Health Service has reached £500 million a year, with a further cost of £2 billion to the wider economy.
“There are significant health risks associated with obesity, which can begin at a young age.
“They include heart disease, some cancers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and mental health problems.
“Worryingly, we have also seen a big increase in the number of young people suffering from type 2 diabetes, despite its normal association with adults.
“We have to go back to basics and ask ourselves why so many children are obese today.
“There is no great mystery about it. Too many children take too little exercise and eat too much junk food.”
Lord Pendry spoke about the “fantastic work” by national and local government, in schools and through the national governing bodies of sport, seeking to revolutionise Britain’s approach to physical activity
He said: “The benefits of physical activity are well documented and can be crucial in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, improving education and fostering community cohesion.
“However, as we are talking about obesity, it is in health that the benefits of physical activity can really be seen in the young.
“That is underpinned by the fact that people involved in sport and physical activity are 20 to 30 per cent less likely to die prematurely and up to 50 per cent less likely to develop major chronic medical conditions.”
Apart from Albion’s initiative, Brighton and Hove has also been a cycling demonstration town and hosted the Take Part festival in Preston Park last summer to encourage exercise. The dates for the coming summer are Saturday 19 June to Sunday 4 July.
Lord Pendry said: “The problem is serious, but it is not hopeless. There is plenty of hope.
“A number of organisations are doing good work, there is record investment in our young people and we are seeing the worrying trends begin to reverse.”
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