13.02.15
Health & wellbeing

Getting fit not fat

Get fit written on a chalkboard

This week the BBC’s website ran an article which championed the need to ‘focus on fitness not fatness.’ This basic truth is the perfect antidote to what has seemed like months of endless media coverage on a national obesity crisis, which covers every group in society from school age children to expectant mums.

We’re part of this conversation too – one of Amaven’s key goals is to help to combat obesity - so the purpose of this blog is certainly not to undermine the efforts of those who are calling out for better food labeling, healthier school meals and a crack down on sugar etc. Instead, this is a discussion that is all about balance.

Getting fit is often overlooked by those who are waging a war on fat. The public health focus is firmly fixed on diet but what about the perils of inactivity? Quite simply, there is too much attention paid to poor diets and not enough to the benefits of exercise and it’s time to level this and address what should be the focus of any discussion that is centred on health and wellbeing.

According to Dr Gavin Sandercock, a children’s fitness expert from the University of Essex, is arguably a better predictor of ill health than obesity. He calls for an approach that measures fitness pointing out that those who increase their activity levels - training for a sports event, taking up an activity like swimming or simply walking more – become and feel much physically fitter. Measuring fitness would validate any initiative to increase children’s activity levels and to get them moving.

Also in the news this week, complementing the BBC’s item, was a call from paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson for parents to demand better sports lessons to beat childhood obesity. Again, nice focus on sport and movement rather than diet and food.

In the article, which ran on walesonline, Grey-Thomson suggested that schools in Wales make physical education (PE) a core subject alongside numeracy and literacy. She applauded recent physical literacy pilots but said that there needs to be a whole new mindset in order to teach young children how to be physically active.

If you marry these two topics, you start to come close to what Amaven is all about. In the coming months we will be asking for a sea change in attitude and we believe that introducing measurement is exactly how to go about getting it.