6 ways schools can help tackle childhood obesity

trim-trail-balance-walk-at3Childhood obesity is still a concern amongst educational and health professionals, as well as parents. Ensuring children are a healthy weight and lead healthy lifestyles is not only important for their physical health but their mental wellbeing as well. Schools can play an active role in the fight against childhood obesity. Here are 6 ways schools can help tackle this crisis:

Active playtime
Encouraging children to be active during their playtime breaks is one of the key ways that schools can tackle childhood obesity. These beaks during the day give children the opportunity to get in regular exercise and burn off calories. It is for this reason that it is important for schools to install suitable playground equipment that encourage children to be active while playing and ideally choose a variety of equipment that will enable children to build strength as well as burn off calories.

Cooking classes
While being active is important, what children eat is also an important part in tackling obesity. Processed foods are often laden with sugar and salt, which is why it is healthier to prepare as many meals as possible from scratch. Often it is a lack in basic cooking skills that results in adults depending on processed meals, however teaching children basic cooking skills will ensure that they have the ability to cook for themselves once they become adults.

Sheltered outdoor play areas
Britain is renowned for its rain, however as a country with so many rainy days this should not stop children from getting outdoor exercise. Installing shelters in playgrounds helps encourage children to be outdoors even on wet days and ensures that they are able to get some sort of exercise everyday no matter what the weather.

Fitness equipment for all abilities
Often it is when children feel self-conscious about their athletic abilities that they are less likely to want to play sports with their peers. One way schools can combat this is by installing fitness equipment that can be used by children of all abilities. Multi play units, for example, often have a variety of exercises from climbing to crawling that will appeal to children of all athletic abilities. Enabling children to use the one piece of equipment, no matter their natural ability, helps them all to feel inclusive and will encourage all children to be active during their playtime.

Education
Children are usually inquisitive and will often ask their teachers for information about a variety of things. Due to this teachers should ensure that they’ve educated themselves about healthy living so that they can encourage children to lead healthy lifestyles. Being open and honest about the importance of being healthy and a healthy weight, but in a way that won’t make children feel insecure or self-conscious, helps to encourage children to develop healthy habits.

Be sympathetic
From a young age children can feel self-conscious if they don’t fit in with their peers, especially if the reason they are different is due to their appearance. This is why it is important for schools to be careful about how they address obesity and encourage children to be healthy. Making sure children, no matter what weight or size they are, feel included in the conversation and comfortable talking about health and weight will help to make healthy living a natural part of life.

Schools play an active role in children’s lives and therefore are at the forefront of tackling the current childhood obesity crisis. While schools, teachers and educational professionals cannot control what children eat or their exercise levels, they can encourage children to lead healthy lifestyles.