Government Childhood Obesity Strategy – Summary
In the UK, nearly 1 in 3 children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese. This issue is greatest for those children from low-income areas.
- At its simplest, overweight and obesity may be said to be due to taking in more energy through food and drink than we ‘burn off’ through everyday activities. This difference might be small and add up over long periods of time. However, the causes of overweight and obesity are much more complex and include our behaviour, the environment we live our day-to-day lives in, culture and, to some degree, genetics.
- Being overweight or obese during childhood is known to increase the risk of being overweight or obese as an adult . As such, there is the potential for life-long health related consequences .
- In 2014/15, obesity-related ill health in children and adults cost the NHS in England £5.1 billion.
- Nottingham’s children have a significantly higher prevalence of obesity compared to the England average at age 4 to 5 years (10.9% compared to 9.4%) and at age 10 to 11 years (22.2% compared to 19.0%). This makes today’s Government plan important for Nottingham’s children.
- Today, the government released its Childhood Obesity Plan with the aim of significantly reducing England’s rate of childhood obesity within the next ten years .
The report outlines a series of actions to make this goal a reality. The main actions include:
- Commonly known as the sugar tax, the government’s soft drinks levy will be targeted at industry and not directly at the checkout. It aims to encourage industry to lower the content of sugar in its products and is likely to come into effect in 2018. The money raised will go to schools in order to encourage physical activity and healthy diets.
- The government has challenged industry to look at the way it makes products and reduce the amount of sugar in them and/or to incentivise those buying its products to pick lower sugar alternatives. The government’s plan asks the food and drink industry to cut 5% of the sugar in families’ shopping baskets over the next year and 20% over the next 4 years.
- The government has committed to continue working with Local Authorities and Fitness and Leisure services to support the on-going work to make healthy choices the easy choices in its buildings.
- The government plan identifies the opportunities in schools as being key. It plans to help improve physical activity provision and is creating a new healthy ratings scheme to recognise and encourage good practice.
In Nottingham actions have already been taken to promote physical activity with the ‘This Girl Can’ movement looking to inspire women and girls of all ages to engage with local activities and events.
Other actions include re-design of food labelling to help parents make sense of what is in the products they buy; it will produce new menus to encourage good diet in early years; and will look to harness technology to help parents and families.There is disappointment from a number of organisations that the plan does not go further and does not include more of the actions recommended by Public Health England. The Local Government Association has expressed its disappointment that a number of key actions such as giving councils the power to ban junk food advertising near schools, have not been introduced .In Nottingham City, ‘Diet, nutrition and obesity’ is a key theme within the soon-to-be-published Health and Wellbeing Board strategy, which outlines local ambitions and priorities. In addition, the City Council is already in the process of reviewing its diet, obesity and physical activity plans to identify the actions that different organisations can take to help make healthy lives easier.The Government Childhood Obesity plan acknowledges that it ‘represents the start of a conversation, rather than the final word’. In addition to doing what it can to curb obesity at a local level, it is important for Nottingham City to continue to be part of this conversation
How Schools can respond to the Childhood Obesity Strategy
The Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy was launched in August, much of which focused on the role that schools, especially Primary schools, can play in supporting the strategy. Some of the key statements are outlined below:
Every primary child should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day
Schools are expected to deliver 30 minutes a day through active break times, extra-curricular activity and active lessons, with the ‘remaining 30 minutes supported by parents and carers outside of school time’. From September 2017 additional Primary PE Premium will be available to support this recommendation. Many schools are already looking at ways to address levels of low physical activity that include morning ‘Wake and shake!’ sessions in the playground, Change for Life Clubs, Healthy Lifestyle Clubs and Young Ambassadors (Junior Sports Leaders). If schools need further support in developing any of these ideas please contact School Sport Nottingham via College Street: email@example.com
The Sheriff’s Challenge and the ‘Daily Mile’
One of the initiatives highlighted in the Obesity Strategy was the ‘Daily Mile’. At the end of last term the Sheriff launched the Sheriff’s Challenge at Robin Hood School. This challenge is designed to raise the profile of the ‘Daily Mile’ and encourage every school in Nottingham to take part. The ‘Daily Mile’ is an example of the positive impact regular physical activity can have on pupils and was introduced four years ago at St Ninian’s School near Stirling. All pupils at the school walk or run a mile each day, which can take place at any opportune time during the day or to break up and re-energise a lesson. It can be done in one go or in stages. The impact on the pupils at St. Ninians was marked and saw a reduction in obesity levels and well as engagement in lessons.
Everything you need to know about introducing the Daily Mile at your school can be found at: www.thedailymile.co.uk
In terms of the Sheriff’s Challenge we would want every pupil to try and reach 100 miles a year and to support schools we are developing an App to help with the recording. We have also integrated the Sheriff’s Challenge into Opportunity Notts.
Healthy Rating Scheme for Primary Schools
Another key element of the Obesity Strategy was the announcement of a ‘voluntary’ healthy rating scheme to recognise a school’s ‘contribution to preventing obesity to eat better and move more’. This scheme will be taken into account as part of future Ofsted inspections and form part of the inspector’s judgement on ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’.
The rating scheme can be built on existing schemes and should cover the school’s approach as a whole to tackling obesity. It would seem that in Nottingham we have been fortunate having maintained our Healthy Schools programme, through Public Health funding, which will provide excellent evidence of a whole school approach to healthy lifestyles. Over the next few months we will be looking to see how we can adapt this, if necessary, so that schools can comply with the new rating scheme and minimise any additional workload.
For further details of the Healthy School programme please visit our SOLAR website.
Making School Food Healthier
It is likely that the School Food Standards will be updated and additional funding will be made available to support and expansion of the healthy breakfast clubs.
Nottingham City Council’s response.
At a City-wide level the Authority is currently reviewing its ‘Healthy weight, physical activity and obesity strategy’.
If you have any questions concerning the above, please contact:
Martin Smith, SOLAR Service Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org