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Schools to play key role in fight against childhood obesity

By Deven Pamben    18 Aug 2016
An inactive childhood means you are twice as likely to be an obese adult

Schools will be expected to deliver at least 30 minutes of “moderate to vigorous physical activity” to its pupils each day as part of the government’s strategy to fight childhood obesity.

The strategy, which covers England, also says physical activity will be a key part of a new healthy schools rating scheme, so schools can demonstrate what they are doing to make their pupils more physically active. However, this rating scheme will be “voluntary”.

The 13-page document, which was released on Thursday, says children should have least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, with 30 minutes in schools and the other half-an-hour outside of school time. A new interactive online tool will be created to help schools plan at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.

Schools will be expected to deliver this from the extra cash that will be generated from the government’s sugar tax, which was announced earlier this year. The tax is estimated to make £520m.

The strategy says from September 2017, a voluntary healthy rating scheme for primary schools will be introduced to recognise and encourage their contribution in preventing obesity by helping children to eat better and move more.

The scheme will be taken into account during Ofsted inspections. Schools that can demonstrate healthy approaches towards tackling obesity among their pupils will be recognised in an annual competition.

The government has also asked the County Sports Partnerships to work with national governing bodies of sport, the Youth Sport Trust and other national and local providers to ensure that from September 2017, every primary school in England has access to high-quality sport and physical activity programmes, both local and national.

The plan also asks the food and drink industry to cut 5 per cent of the sugar in products popular with children over the next year. It targets a 20 per cent sugar cut by 2020.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, ukactive chair, said: “We support the government’s ambition to address the major issue of childhood obesity and believe it’s vital that we treat physical inactivity with the same importance if we are to overcome an impending health crisis. An inactive childhood means you are twice as likely to be an obese adult and shortens your lifespan by up to five years.

“We cannot afford to consign the youth of today – the least active generation in history – to a future of ill-health and unhappiness, so it’s vital that we embed a minimum of one hour of physical activity into their daily routines.”

The strategy has come under fire from some quarters as not going far enough.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Action on Sugar chair, said the paper was “an insulting response to the UK crisis in obesity type 2 diabetes both in children and adults”.

The Obesity Health Alliance said the measures announced “are far from an ambitious strategy and let down the next generation”.

Obesity  government  schools  activity 
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