Obesity strategy commits government to increase the number of children walking to school 

The new childhood obesity strategy, released today, highlights the serious issue we’re facing in terms of unhealthy children. Over a third of those aged 11 are overweight or obese and just one in five children are sufficiently active to stay healthy. This is having a negative impact on the nation’s health as we age and is costing the NHS £5.1bn every year.

 

Tompion Platt, Head of Policy at Living Streets, the charity responsible for the national Walk to School campaign says:

“The Government’s commitment in the obesity strategy to setting a ‘clear target to increase the number of children walking to school’ is fantastic news at a time when walking levels continue to decline. We’re pleased that the new Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS), out later in the year, is going to include a new target, in a bid to increase the number of children walking to school. Our hopes are that this target will be challenging and backed by the necessary investment to make it happen. 

“We need to do more work to encourage children to be physically active and one of the easiest and most accessible ways of doing this is through walking. This everyday act not only involves children moving; helping them to maintain a healthy weight, it has been shown to improve mental health, gives them time to socialise with friends or family and can teach independence and vital road safety skills. It should be considered as one of the best options to improve our children’s health.”

 

Our hopes are that this target will be challenging and backed by the necessary investment to make it happen.

Tompion Platt, Head of Policy
A group of students walking together
Children crossing the road with the help of a lolipop person

Walking to school is an easy, free and accessible way for parents to encourage their children to be physically active and has been shown to improve children’s concentration in class. And while diet is undeniably an incredibly important factor in children’s health, it isn’t the full story – physical activity has an important role to play.

Platt continues: “We look forward to seeing a clear and measurable target for children walking to school in the CWIS but today’s publication is a good indicator that walking will step forward as part of the solution to combat inactivity and obesity in our nation’s children.”

Read the full report at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/childhood-obesity-a-plan-for-action 

Read our comment on the CWIS: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/what-you-can-do/blog/government-opens-cwis-consultation