Friday, October 27, 2006

Combatting obesity in children

22% overweight in reception classes.

Figures reveal that 22% of South Tyneside's children in reception classes are overweight and this rises to 37% by the time they reach year 6. Whilst the figures only reflect the national average, this Borough is no better or worse than others, they do give cause for concern.

Our Council is achieving high standards in the provision of school meals to a prescribed nutritional balance, with reduced sugars, salts and fats, and increased vitamin and mineral content, so this is not an issue.

What perhaps is an issue, is the diet followed by children outside of school, at home, and also the exercise regimes of modern children. We see fewer groups of youngsters actively playing in back lanes and front streets these days, as parents become wary of the dangers of increased traffic, we also tend to see fewer children playing actively in the boroughs parks and open spaces, perhaps because many families have two working parents, hence the children are not taken to these places. This is a great shame, when I was a youngster, children played outside from the time they arrived home from school and stayed outside until after sunset when parents would gather them in. Of course we didn't have such easy access to the range of convenience "fatty" foods that are available now, and relied on a more stable but healthy diet of fresh foods cooked in the home by mother. A quick snack might consist of an apple, orange, plum, or peach. However, when it was time to come in, we came in physically tired having enjoyed hours of strenuous exercise. We played football in the back lanes, girls had their own type of running about games, we climbed trees and walls, we chased each other, we ran about playing hide and seek, we ranged about for miles collecting the most mundane items for some of our games, a bus ticket, a leaf, a sweet wrapper etc. The first back to base with a full collection was the winner.

At school we also excercised strenuously, and this is an area I have concerns about today. Each school split it's pupils into "houses", and these houses gained points for their sporting exploits to determine the annual winner of a house trophy. Houses, often named after local luminaries, would compete in such sports as soccer, rugby, netball, cricket, hockey, tennis, cross country running, swimming, badminton, etc. This was just the level of competition in each individual school (Hogwarts Hall has something valuable to teach us here).

At town and county levels there were sporting leagues for schools to partake in for football, rugby, hockey, netball, etc. We had representative teams for South Shields, indeed I played football for South Shields Boys at under 12, under 14, and under 16 levels, and I played rugby for Durham County.

Now I read regularly of mini soccer leagues for lads in the local paper but these seem to be organised outside of the education system by groups of enthusiastic parents, supported by sponsorship from local businesses. I no longer see reports of results from schools leagues, is it because they no longer exist? Do we still enter a team in the English Schools F.A. Cup for example?

If Councillor Smith wishes to consider action plans to combat childhood obesity, may I suggest that her committee starts by rebuilding the foundations of sport in schools, I'm sure it is greatly missed and was a great contributor to the overall fitness levels of children decades ago. Many schools still have the sporting facilities and fields required but perhaps do not have the level of qualified staff (Loughbrough College was a massive resource for sports graduates years ago.) Apart from increasing the fitness of our children, and reducing their propensity to balloon to enormous proportions, it also instills a competitve spirit, team working ethics, and collective pride in achievements.


Shields Gazette.

obesity in children is terrible..but there are so many now a days....i also think the fact that today both parents work, and it's easy to just get those fast foods....its terrible...most parents put kids infront of the TV also istead of playing outside....
I agree I grew up outside and we were all super athletic...and I try to educate my kids on nutrution and to be as athletic as the can be....its so much harder as we get older to loose weight...I love the fact that we live in France and meals are so proportioned....not like in the states were when they bring you a salad its a bowl for 4 people, portions are super extra large there...proportions also has alot to do....
have a great week end.. i enjoyed blogging threw your blog....
Thanks for that Andrea, it's good to find someone else who believes that exercise needs to be dovetailed with diet.
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