The Governments updated Childhood Obesity Guidance and its significance for Physical Education
In 2014 The Health Survey for England outlined that nearly a third of UK children are overweight or obese. The UK Government implemented measures to combat this statistic, which are now being revamped and renewed in order to take better action.
In late January of 2017 the UK Governments Department for Education updated their guidance for ‘Childhood Obesity: a plan for action.’ The need for a strategy to combat childhood obesity links to the significance of PE and how we can do more with children from an early age.
When the new strategy first emerged last year it many people including campaigning TV chef Jamie Oliver branded it a “travesty,” with many believing the strategy was diluted to cut costs. The revised plan intends to tackle childhood obesity by introducing and implementing a number of levies and taxes on soft drinks and sugars, and improving and investing in initiatives that promote healthy eating and living. This can also be heralded as good news for Physical education with lots more money being put a side and invested into the subject.
The report emphasises that encouraging all children to enjoy an hour of physical activity a day can be extremely beneficial for the children’s health. It proposes that schools should have more than the two PE lessons a week provided by most UK schools today. It also suggests new extra- curricular clubs, as well as stressing the importance to parents all the time in order for the children to be active at home.
Funding for PE lessons and extra-curricular clubs will come from the new funding that the soft drinks levy will make available. This will be inspected by Ofsted to ensure that leaders spend this Primary PE and Sport Premium correctly, and will also measure this against its impact upon the children.
School food will also be updated due to the new advice on sugar and nutrition from the governments dietary recommendations. They also announced that ‘£10 million a year of revenue from the soft drinks levy will fund the expansion of healthy breakfast clubs.’
Most schools are already subject to healthy eating school standards yet some academies and free schools are not. A campaign encouraging all schools to commit to the standards will be led by the Secretary of state for Education. The report also claims that there will be campaigning to raise awareness in both practitioners and parents about early years’ dietary requirements and guidelines on physical activity.
From September 2017 the report says that every primary school in England will have access to a co-ordinated offer of high quality sport and physical activity programmes, in partnership with the County Sports Partnerships, the Youth Sport Trust and with national and local governing bodies.
If improving the quality of sport activity programmes for schools is paramount for this strategy to work, then it needs both investment and a requirement to educate parents on the importance of activity. The report claims that “The Sport England Strategy ‘Towards an Active Nation’ (2016) has already set out a major new investment of £40m.”
They Government are also planning to reduce childhood obesity by:
- Reducing sugar in products by 20% and introducing a soft drink levy
- Clearer food labelling
- Supporting businesses to make their products healthier
- Updating the nutrient profile model so families know more about what is good for their children
- Making Healthy choices available for sale in the public sector
- Provide support towards the costs of healthy foods for needy individuals
While many care professionals remain sceptical of this plan, it’s not just up to this strategy to reduce obesity in children and more can be done by teachers and parents in order to combat this. Teachers and parents must inspire their children to get into sports, physical activity and healthy eating from a very early age and try to maintain this as a way of life throughout adulthood.