Mollycoddling helping our couch-potato kids?

22:42, Jan 05 2014

Perhaps part of the problem is that breeding - or more precisely, the mating act itself - is generally quite pleasurable.

If that were not the case, and the pain, weight gains and general inconveniences of pregnancy and childbirth were shared equally by both parents, there might be more consideration given to the potential consequences.

Dealing as he does with something like 1000 children across the top of the south in his typical working week, physical educator Lee Corlett is well qualified to offer observations on the state of our children's fitness.

He says some kids are so obese they need help to get off the ground. Blaming too much time playing computer games and eating junk food, Mr Corlett points the finger squarely where it belongs - at lazy, apathetic parents.

He calls the consequences of their inadequacies, as manifested in their offspring, "awful" and "tragic".

He's not alone with his concerns. Late last year Australian sports scientist Grant Tomkinson released the results of a review of 50 fitness studies involving more than 25 million children conducted between 1964 and 2010.


He told American doctors that today's average child would be 25 per cent slower over a middle distance race than his or her counterpart in 1975.

The implications for individual health are obvious. So, too, are the wider societal repercussions.

Our health budgets are already groaning. An obesity epidemic, with its attendant medical issues, looks all but inevitable - many say it is already here - and its impact will be crippling.

Good habits are best started young. Mr Corlett is doing his bit to introduce this region's children to a healthier lifestyle with a programme aimed at giving every preschooler an appreciation of the joys and benefits of physical fitness.

He has solid credentials: 20 years as a physical trainer with the NZ Army, Sport and Rec Department head at NMIT and general manager at Sport Tasman are all on his CV, and the one-time Nelson Mail Nelsonian of the Year finalist has poured all of that background into his latest venture, Sporting Initiative Nelson.

But he can't do it alone. The most effective way to counter the call of the burger, the fascination of TV and videos, the siren song of the PlayStation and Xbox, is through inspired, concerned and attentive parenting.

He also blames "PC gone nuts" for the couch potato generation, but at least the Kiwisport philosophy did promote participation. If Mr Corlett is right, even that has drifted into malaise.

We do tend to mollycoddle our children compared with past generations. In some instances this is well warranted, but Mr Corlett is uniquely placed to judge the results. Is over-protection doing more harm than good?

The Nelson Mail