Childhood Obesity Plan an "important first step" to ensuring children lead active lives

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The Government has today launched its plan to tackle childhood obesity including details on a Soft Drinks Industry Levy.

Childhood Obesity: A Plan for Action outlines the Government’s goals and actions to cut childhood obesity within the next ten years, a figure that currently stands at a third of children between the ages of 2 and 15.

Included in the action plan is more information on the ‘sugar tax’ which the Government announced in the Budget earlier this year. The plan also confirms the commitment the Government made at the Budget to invest the revenue from the soft drinks industry levy, which is targeted at the producers and importers of soft drinks, in ‘programmes to reduce obesity and encourage physical activity and balanced diets for school children’. This will see the doubling of the Primary PE and Sport Premium as well as put a further £10 million a year in to healthy breakfast clubs for schools. The Government has also launched a consultation on the detail of the levy.

Also included in the plan are details on how the Government intends to increase the duration and quality of physical activity and sport in schools. It recommends that school children should be receiving 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, in-line with the recommendations of the UK Chief Medical Officers. At least 30 minutes of this should be delivered in school with the remaining 30 minutes supported by parents and carers outside of school time.

To help facilitate this, Government has asked County Sports Partnerships to work with National Governing Bodies and Youth Sport Trust, as well as other national and local providers, to offer high-quality sport programmes to every primary school from September 2017. 

The plan also includes:

  • A new healthy rating scheme for primary schools to encourage schools to develop and improve their contributions to the improvement of children’s healthy through their diet and physical activity. This rating scheme will be taken in to account during Ofsted inspections and parent will also be involved in the rating process
  • In addition to inspections, in 2017 Ofsted will undertake a thematic review of obesity, healthy eating and physical activity in schools
  • In early 2017, Government will update the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework to make specific reference to the UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines for physical activity
  • Public Health England will produce advice to schools for the academic year 2017/18 on how schools can work with the school nurses, health centres, healthy weight teams and other resources to help children develop a healthier lifestyle
  • Commitment to continued Government investment in walking and cycling to school and the production of a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy
  • Moves to enable health professionals to support families including strengthening guidance on physical activity for midwives and health visitors

Emma Boggis, Chief Executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, commenting on the Obesity Plan said,

"We welcome the Government’s commitment to tackling childhood obesity, as set out in the today’s Childhood Obesity Plan with a clear recognition of the numerous benefits of physical activity for children.

We welcome in particular the confirmation from the Government of their intention to use the revenue from the new Soft Drinks Industry Levy to increase funding of the Primary PE and Sport Premium and invest in other activities to encourage physical activity. It’s vital that schools are given as much as support as possible in helping them decide how best to invest the Premium. The sport and recreation sector has a key role to play in the development of quality physical activity and sport programmes and stands ready to play its part.

The success of TeamGB in Rio will help inspire the next generation of elite athletes, but it is also an opportunity to promote and develop opportunities for everyone to reap the benefits of being physically active. Fundamental to this is ensuring our children grow up with a positive experience of sport and physical activity and their early experience in schools is where this must start. We need highly skilled practitioners and coaches in schools to ensure no child feels sport is something they can’t do.

We see today’s Obesity Plan as an important first step in ensuring children lead active, healthy and fulfilling lives and  forward to working with our members, partners and the Government on implementation."

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