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Missing the point on PE

THEY'RE getting fatter and they're drinking more. It could be a complaint about the Scottish population in general, but the latest evidence (page four) concerns young children. A study in the north of England has found they show higher levels of excess fat as they progress through primary school. Scottish experts confirm that the problem crosses the border. As for early exposure to alcohol, the worrying aspect of a Srathclyde University report is not that most youngsters have had a drink before they leave primary (since that can helpfully counter an adult mystique) but that many 12 to 14-year-olds spend up to 10 a week on alcohol.

Drinking is more of a problem than drugs, yet all the attention goes to drugs education, however unproven are the programmes on offer. General physical itness does not create much of a stir either. A child whose obesity imperils his life chances is less of a media worry for politicians than one who cannot do his three Rs. It is easier to issue dire warnings about the "basics" of education than it is to provide facilities and time for PE and sports. Brian Toner's column on the page opposite illustrates the challenge in getting beyond tokenism in primary sports development.

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