Time for action…
It’s been reported that an astonishing one in three children under the age of 15 in England can now be classed as overweight or obese. Health leaders are urgently calling for an emergency taskforce to be set up to tackle this problem, which has now reached crisis point.
Organisations, including the Royal College of General Practitioners sent an open letter to the chief medical officer for England, to coincide with the start of the new school year, calling for action to be taken.
All of the measures called for, which include better co-ordination of obesity treatment services, increased support for the National Child Measurement Programme, improved investment in IT programmes for weight management and more training in malnutrition and obesity for health proferssionals, are laudable but let’s not get stuck on diet alone.
There is room for increased education when it comes to junk food, sugar and fizzy drinks etc. and the perils of these are regular headline news but we can’t, ultimately, police what goes into each individual’s shopping trolley and what’s served up for children at home.
Let’s face it, when a likeable and trusted personality like Jamie Oliver can come in for some stick from certain factions (including parents !) for trying to improve school dinners, we know any changes to the diet of the majority is going to be a long battle and will not give us the immediate results that any mass, significant campaign needs and what that one on three is crying out for.
Kids need exercise and this is where schools can play an efficient and effective role. Best of all, we can quite easily measure the results and improve on them, taking on board the findings – and all of this in a short space of time. It’s within our control – it’s within the schools control – to a far larger extent than diet is. Diet can be monitored within school but any healthy eating between the hours of nine and three can be squashed with empty calorific content consumed within a couple of hours at home. You can’t, however, undo good exercise.
We need more schools to trial Amaven and to sign up quick. This is simply because until every school in the country is using this system, we haven’t done our job.
All habits are born of repetition and good habits require more effort and consistency to make them stick but to actually implement a system that generates these habits is not that difficult to do. It doesn’t take that much time but the pay off to be had from introducing regular exercise, tailored to improve a child’s performance and to give them the impetus to get fitter, is enormous.