One in four children unfit or overweight
One in four children are unfit, overweight or obese and have high blood pressure, research has revealed.
A study for the Irish Sports Council (ISC) uncovered alarming levels of inactivity among 10 to 18-year-olds inside and outside school.
While three-quarters play sport twice a week after classes, only a fifth of primary children and 12pc of post-primary get the recommended one hour of intense exercise a week.
And less well-off youngsters are much less likely to take part in activities or sport outside schools sport than middle-class children.
Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Mary Hanafin said the study showed some successes but also highlighted areas where work needed to be done. "The research also shows there remains a clear challenge to keep young people, especially girls, engaged in active sports through their teens," she said.
"The key message is to use every opportunity to get and keep children and young people active through a combination of participation in school and extra-school activities, through involvement in local clubs and in quality active leisure time with their family and friends."
The Children's Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study found gender gaps remained in fitness levels, with girls less likely than boys to meet recommended physical activity guidelines.