Ten years ago one in ten Swedish seven-year-olds was overweight or obese; now that figure is one in four. During that period, the amount of time given over to sport in Swedish schools has also fallen.
Now athletes including hurdler Susanna Kallur, hockey player Niklas Kronwall and football player Niclas Alexandersson have called for this to change.
“Sweden is at the foot of the European league for the number of hours given over to sport, four from the very bottom,” they write in an article in Wednesday’s Dagens Nyheter, which is co-authored by a number of researchers, doctors and teachers.
The majority of Swedes support extra school sport, the writers of the article claim, pointing to a poll carried out by Svenskt Sportforum, an industry organization for sports equipment makers.
Those behind the article argue that exercise and health are becoming a class issue. Health problems are more common among children from lower social classes. Children who already exercise are exercising more, while those who don’t exercise at all are growing in number.
Schools must take more responsibility, the authors argue, as that is the only place where all children can be reached. They challenged Schools Minister Jan Björklund to take this into account when he publishes the new curriculum.