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All children should be encouraged to play sport

4 June 2019

Let’s not lose sight of the need to encourage all children to play sport

Over the past 11 years there has been a large increase in ACC claims for sports injuries in teens. Since 2008 there has been a 60 per cent increase in ACC lodged sports injuries in 10-14 year olds. ACC are concerned that children are over doing it. Is that really the case? An analysis of the kinds of injuries that have led to this increase would be helpful. Is the increase due to sporting accidents or overuse injuries?

Only a small number of children engage in elite high intensity sport, likely less than 5 per cent of all children playing sport. It is this group that are at risk of overuse injuries. It is also important to note that only a small portion of sporting injuries lead to ACC claims.

“It might be more prudent to focus on practices that reduce contact sporting injuries, including safer sporting techniques. The small number of children at risk of overtraining should be managed by parents and coaches,” says Professor Wayne Cutfield, Director of A Better Start National Science Challenge and Professor of Paediatric Endocrinology at the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland.

“Not having a healthy weight is the most important factor leading to the burden of disease as an adult. With one in three New Zealand children overweight, or obese, the earlier we intervene and ensure that children have a healthy weight, the better their long-term health and wellbeing,” Says Professor Cutfield.

“We continue to be gripped by an obesity epidemic with ever increasing rates of obesity in older children and teenagers. Physical activity and healthy diets are critical to combat this epidemic.”

“Let’s not get distracted by the small number of children training and playing elite sport and not lose sight of the need to encourage all children to play sport,” says Professor Cutfield.


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