On foot of the findings of a major research study observing the health behaviours of 1,280 school children, parents and teachers across Ireland, leading health psychologist, Professor David Hevey of Trinity College Dublin, has recommended that health-homework be considered as a compulsory part of the primary school curriculum.

Hevey, Founding Director of the Trinity College Research Centre in Psychological Health who has also conducted research for the National Children’s Research Centre, carried out an independent study to critically assess the Super Troopers with Laya Healthcare programme – Ireland’s first health homework programme involving over 200,000 primary school children – and explore more broadly the healthy attitudes and behaviours of primary school children and their families.

Professor Hevey’s research found that children and their parents were significantly more ‘active’ after taking part in Super Troopers, with one in four families eating healthier as a result of participating in the programme.

The findings include:

  • The research team calculated children’s BMI and of those who participated, one in five (20%) are overweight/obese
  • Almost half of parents (42%) said their child’s weight impacted on their self-esteem, with almost one in three (30%) admitting weight impacted on their child’s friendships and moods (38%)
  • Almost one in five (17%) parents admit to being concerned about their child’s weight, with the majority (72%) talking directly with their child about her/his weight, suggesting they are tackling the issue head-on

Alarming consumption of ‘sugary water’ drinks

  • The good news is that Irish children are drinking less fizzy drinks, with just 2% drinking them every day. However, the bad news is that they’re swapping fizzy drinks for sugary waters, with one in four (27%) kids drinking ‘fruit-flavoured water’ (27%) at least five days a week.

Kids spending more time indoors on devices than outside 

  • Almost half (48%) of primary school children have access to a tablet, with one in three (35%) accessing game consoles and almost one in five (17%) using smartphones
  • Kids spend over 7 hours a week playing on game consoles, smart phones, tablets and watching TV.  When time spent on all devices is added up, children spend more time on their devices than outdoors.