If sport and exercise had any significant impact on weight, I would now weigh about 2kg. Both have many advantages – social, psychological and physical – but weight loss is not one of them.
The government’s £2bn walking and cycling initiative (Letters, 30 July) is therefore a classic kneejerk response, ignoring the fact that we already have 10 million health club members, with more people engaged in sport than at any time in our history. The priority in controlling obesity lies mainly in diet. This must be the major factor in a schools health education programme. This also means educating parents, to have a strong impact on children’s diet and exercise from birth, and the Leeds initiative looks to be an excellent model. Children’s language capacity at 12 can be predicted as early as three, and there is no reason to believe that diet and physical activity are any different.
What we need is a health education programme that is woven into our schools, local authorities and the NHS, and one that prioritises low-income groups. Male life expectancy in Glasgow’s Gorbals is 57, but only a few miles away, in leafy Kelvinside, it is 79. Cycle vouchers will do nothing to address this.
St Albans, Hertfordshire