A recent study into childhood obesity figures pinpointed 10% of youngsters between the ages of 5 and 19 are now regarded as obese. With the number of children classed as overweight or obese set to bypass those within the underweight umbrella, professionals across the country are trying to understand how such trends can be halted and reversed.
Efforts have been placed around the focal points of diet and physical activity, with schools receiving extra funds within their school sport and premium pots designed to provide more opportunities for children to become physically active. Tax on sugary drinks is another attempt to promote healthy lifestyles, with Liverpool even set to ban the infamous Coca-Cola truck from the city in the build-up to Christmas.
However, David Morley, Professor of Youth Sport and Physical Activity at Sheffield Hallam University, suggested: “what is often ignored is a child’s ability to move effectively. It is one thing to say that a child should be more physically active, but quite another for a child to develop the competence and confidence required to engage in physical activity.”
He added that “opportunities for children to move are in decline”, with less children playing outdoors and the time spent in vehicles outweighing that of walking or cycling.
With evidence showing that ‘movement competence’ of EYFS and Key Stage 1 children in the United Kingdom is below the average in most other countries, Morley suggests that there should be a clear focus on fundamental movement skills within primary school settings.
Speaking to The Conversation, he concluded: “ultimately this is about more than just the figures and obesity rates, this is about making sure the next generation of adults are suitably prepared for a sustainable active lifestyle.”
Morley’s article links in with further calls for physical activity to be incorporated into the classroom environment after research was presented by a cross-party parliamentary group about the benefits of such an intervention.
Both sets of content align with Evolve’s mission to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of children that was recently recognised by the Royal Society of Public Health who awarded us the Healthier Lifestyles Award for 2017.
Yet children must be taught how to play before they start to play.