Doting parents, convinced their children want to be driven, are instead taking them by car, according to a study by Deakin University.
But this Friday (May 20) will be different, as thousands of students use hoof power as part of Walk Safely to School Day.
The university’s Professor Boyd Swinburn said the initiative – now in its 12th year – was important given the obesity epidemic swamping Australian children.
“Most of the diseases in adulthood are related to lifestyle including lack of physical activity. So if we’re bringing up the next generation of children to be sedentary, then they become sedentary adults and that flows on to developing these chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes,” he said
“From the studies we’ve done at Deakin University, less than half of the primary school who children live within 15 minutes of school actually walk to school. Now when we ask the children how they prefer to get to school, 75 per cent of them say that they would prefer to get to school by walking.
"But when we ask the parents how they think the children prefer to get to school, much more of them think their children prefer to get dropped off by a car.”
He described National Walk Safely to School Day as “an important event”, and said it could change attitudes, school policies and the behaviour patterns of children.
“Walking regularly to school helps prevent obesity, but it also prevents other diseases later in life. It also increases quality of life for children and of course, reduces carbon emissions from fewer cars on the road.
“Whatever way you count it, there are plenty of benefits of active transport to and from school,” Prof Swinburn said.
Walk Safely to School Day promotes the message "active Kids are healthy kids" and asks parents to walk all or part of the way to school with their children to start healthy habits from a young age.