Belfast needs an Aquatic Strategy to combat its all-time high obesity levels.
That is the message from GLL (Better Belfast) as they embark on a series of public consultations about the structure and future of leisure services in the city.
The firm pointed to nearly 60,000 young people taking advantage of Belfast’s swimming pools last year and insisted they “want as many adults and children as possible to learn that skill and take it further”.
Gareth Kirk, Regional Director, GLL (Better Belfast), said: “Obesity is at an all-time high in Northern Ireland. People are also living longer and living with chronic and lifelong medical conditions.
“That means we have a huge challenge to meet in terms of the burden placed on our health service, with a growing need set against a backdrop of less funding.
“In addition to this, there is also a growth in the prevalence of mental health problems and the impact of these on society. Much research points towards the need for physical exercise in helping to combat poor mental health, as well as poor physical health.
“Political leaders, health service managers, patient groups and other organisations recognise this and report after report pinpoints public health and prevention as one of the central pillars in delivering a transformed health service and easing this enormous burden on public finances.