Playforce, the UK's leading playground and outdoor space provider, has been campaigning hard for ways to get our nation's children outside and active for over 20 years.
"Since publishing their Combatting Childhood Obesity report, in 2012, and Healthy Children report, in 2013, little seems to have changed," says National Field Sales Manager, Chris Brady.
"‹In the 2012 report we said: "˜The National Child Measurement Programme gives us the clearest picture, however, of the problem we face. The 2010/11 report showed that, in Reception, over a fifth (22.6%) of the children measured were either overweight or obese. In Year 6, this proportion was one in three (33.4%). The percentage of obese children in Year 6 (19.0%) was over double that of Reception year children (9.4%).'
The latest figures, for 2014/15, show that 19.1% of children in Year 6 (aged 10-11) were obese and a further 14.2% were overweight. Of children in Reception (aged 4-5), 9.1% were obese and another 12.8% were overweight. This means a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds were overweight or obese.
In short, in almost six years, despite widespread publicity about the scale of this problem, nothing appears to have changed? How can that be?
As part of their continued work to raise awareness of the importance of integrating active play and learning into the school day, from the earliest age, Playforce has reissued its Combatting Childhood Obesity and Healthy Children papers, along with an updated report on the latest statistics. All three documents include helpful tips and suggestions for things practitioners can do in nurseries and schools, as well as ideas for taking the curriculum outside. Importantly, says Brady, it's not just a case of stating the problem:
"Playforce is all about practical solutions and ways people can make a difference. As the UK's leading outdoor space and play developer we recognise the responsibility we have to challenge the government to make the changes necessary. That's why we'd like to see the Chief Medical Officer's recent recommendations, that every child should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 60 minutes every day, as mandatory. And the best way to achieve this is through taking curriculum and learning into the playground".
Other tips from Playforce include identifying the small, practical things you can change, providing greater training for teachers and practitioners as well as demanding a more consistent message from the Government.
To download this latest update as well as Playforce's Combatting Childhood Obesity and Healthy Children reports, go to www.playforce.co.uk/healthy-children