Childhood obesity is one of the biggest challenges facing Primary Schools and society today.
Today, 1 in 3 children in England are overweight by the time they leave primary school. 1 in 5 are obese. By the time they reach adulthood, more than 1 in 4 people are obese, and almost 3 out of 5 are overweight.
The sad truth is that obesity levels have doubled in the UK in a single generation – and this is impacting heavily on the health, wellbeing and quality of life for millions of people across the country.
At First Step, we want to help reverse this trend. We believe that all primary school children deserve the opportunity to live healthy, active lives. In this post, we explore the hard facts behind childhood obesity, and look at what primary schools can do to help combat it.
Childhood Obesity – The Risks
Childhood obesity and excess weight are significant health issues which can impact on the body and mind in a number of different ways, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Breathing problems
- Joint problems
- Fatty liver disease
- Anxiety, depression and low self-esteem
- Social problems
One of the biggest issues is that children who are obese are significantly more likely to be obese as adults – which is associated with increased risk of a number of very serious and life limiting conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Childhood Obesity – The Hard Facts
The latest government research (including National Child Measurement Data, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey and the Active Lives Children and Young People Survey) reveals some worrying facts relating to childhood obesity:
- More than 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese when they begin primary school
- 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school
- Obesity rates are highest in the most deprived 10% of the population (approximately twice that of the least deprived 10%)
- Less 18% of children take part in physical activity for at least 60 minutes every day
- One third of children do less than 30 minutes of exercise each day
Thankfully, we are seeing some positive action to address the issue, and there have been some promising developments, such as the introduction of the sugar tax. However, there is still a long way to go.
Solutions in the Primary School
The government has ambitious targets to halve childhood obesity levels by 2030. Primary schools, and school sport providers like First Step have a huge part to play if this is going to be achieved.
In July 2019, the government launched the new School Sport and Activity Action Plan – A cross-government action plan to provide pupils with greater opportunity to access 60 minutes of sport and physical activity every day.
We believe this is a huge step forward, both in terms of the government’s attitude towards school sport, and in terms of providing primary schools with the support and guidance they need to deliver on the objectives.
The First Step Approach
At First Step, we strive to be part of the solution to childhood obesity. We strongly believe that effective delivery of school sport and physical activity in primary schools is an integral part of this.
To us, this starts with enjoyment – if children don’t enjoy being physically active, they simply won’t take part as much as they should.
Maximising engagement, raising enjoyment levels and promoting physical literacy is central to the delivery of all our primary school PE and extra-curricular activities. In practice, this means taking a fun, inclusive approach, and offering a wide variety of different physical activities and sports – providing something everyone can enjoy.
We believe that everyone can enjoy being active, and supporting them, motivating them and encouraging them to do so is something we’re passionate about.
Primary School PE Delivery from First Step
At First Step PE, we support primary schools across Yorkshire and the Humber with the creation, preparation, training and delivery of high quality, structured PE in line with the national curriculum.
In addition, we also deliver a wide range of extra-curricular school sports and activity programmes designed to enrich your activity offering.