Childhood Obesity Strategy should go further, say Intelligent Health

Intelligent Health today welcomes the profile given to the importance of good health for children outlined in the Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy and calls for targeted measures to deliver change. The plan highlights the importance of physical activity and diet in dealing with children’s health and suggests a number of methods which could improve health.

Dr William Bird, Chief Executive of Intelligent Health said: “This strategy is a step in the right direction for Government in realising the importance of physical activity from an early age but it can go further. It now needs an evidence based approach with measures and funding to support change. Inactivity is one of the biggest issues facing young people in the UK and inflammation — a cause of most of the serious health conditions facing us today — has been found in children as young as six.

“The benefits of promoting physical activity in schools go beyond improving health. Not only does increased activity reduce a child’s risk of illness and disease but it also leads to greater progress through school, better behaviour and happier healthier children. It cannot only be left to schools to deal with the issue as a whole community approach is needed to make a step change in activity levels.”

The Department of Health recommends that children do at least 60 minutes of vigorous physical activity each day, but over half of 5-15 year olds in the UK do not meet these basic recommendations.

Back in 2014, Intelligent Health developed an evidence based approach to increasing physical activity levels across a community putting children in charge of enabling change.

Beat the Street transforms entire communities into playable towns with residents competing to see who can walk, run or cycle the furthest. The gamification of the town makes this particularly attractive to children — as has been witnessed by Pokemon Go — but the Beat the Street game is accessible for everyone, young and old. Teachers, pupils, parents and businesses all take part helping build a social norm around activity.

Over 600 schools have taken part in the health intervention this year alone and the total number of participants for 2016 currently stands at over 203,000. Curriculum material based around active classroom principles enables pupils and staff to understand why moving is so important and how to make changes in their own lives. Parents are also supported to see how small changes to everyday behaviour can be beneficial for them and their children.

Creating a positive environment around being active and embedding good habits as part of daily life is what is need to improve health for young people today.

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