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18 Aug 2016

University expertise in childhood inactivity helps guide new Government strategy

The Childhood Obesity Action Plan sets out measures the Government will take over the next ten years to reduce the number of overweight and obese children in the UK.

In January this year the BHFNC, which is based in University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS), released The Best Start in Life: A Manifesto for Physical Activity in the Early years

Within the manifesto the BHFNC and University called on policy makers to ensure that every child under five has access to high quality physical activity opportunities from birth, and to embed early years physical activity into Government policy nationally, regionally and locally.

Following the launch of the manifesto and subsequent discussions with key Government officials, two of the recommendations made have been taken forward and included in the childhood obesity strategy.

The manifesto called for:

  • Comprehensive awareness raising, to ensure health and education professionals and families are aware of, and act upon, the Chief Medical Officers' physical activity guidelines for the early years (2011)
  • Greater emphasis on the importance of physical activity across the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum

What the Government’s Childhood Obesity Action plan states:

  • In 2017, the government will launch a campaign to raise awareness of the early years physical activity guidelines amongst early years practitioners and parents
  • They will update the Early Years Foundation Stage framework to make specific reference to the UK Chief Medical Officers guidelines for physical activity in the early years.

Speaking about the new strategy Loughborough University’s Early Years Project Officer Natalie Matthewman said: “I’m delighted to see that our recommendations been taken forward and the Early Years Foundation Stage will be updated to include specific reference to the physical activity guidelines. It’s great news that early years physical activity is starting to get the recognition it deserves. Although these are small steps forwards they are certainly positive ones.”