Editor’s view - Getting a move on

Monday, August 6, 2018

With levels of childhood obesity in crisis, everyone must take swift action to tackle poor diets and lack of physical exercise

It might feel too hot to move very fast, if at all, at the moment, but it is becoming obvious that faster action is desperately needed to prevent the child obesity crisis from taking an ever greater toll on young lives.

Recent figures showed that severe obesity was at its highest ever rate in Year 6 children, with deprived areas showing the greatest rates. One in 25 10-11-year-olds in 2016/17 were found to be severely obese, which is truly shocking.

What is going on to allow this terrible situation to develop? What we eat, the way we eat, our sedentary lifestyles, our screentime and social media addictions, fears about children’s safety if they are allowed out to play, the lack of opportunities for physical activity at school and nursery… all these play a part, of course.

Movement and physical development expert Carol Archer looks at the importance of addresing these problems from the earliest years in ‘All About… under-threes’ physical development’, in this issue, as 13 per cent of two- to four-year-olds are obese.

As Carol highlights, there is official guidance on levels of physical activity for pre-school children but these have not been well disseminated.

And while Physical Development remains a Prime area, the recent proposed revision of the EYFS and early learning goals could have the result of diminishing its prominence still further, as the areas covered by its ELGs have been reduced by about half.

The Government has made some bolder proposals in its revised childhood obesity plan, including a watershed on junk food advertisements.

These need to be enacted swiftly and firmly to even start tackling this crisis, which could put growing numbers of children at risk otherwise. Early years settings, too, should do everything they can.

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