NHS statistics have revealed that parents of obese and overweight children think their child is the right weight, and that just over a fifth of children are as active as they need to be to maintain a healthy weight.

Parents are being urged to walk their children to school after the Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet: England (published by NHS Digital on 4 April) revealed that one in five children in Year 6 and 1 in 10 children in Reception are classified as obese. 

The statistics found that parents of overweight and obese children think their child is the right weight, with fathers more likely to think this than mothers (41 per cent of mothers with obese children said their child was about the right weight or too light, compared to 55 per cent of fathers with obese children).

The Chief Medical Officer recommends that children are active for 60 minutes a day to stay fit and maintain a healthy weight but the statistics reveal that only 22 per cent achieve this.

Living Streets, the UK charity which promotes walking as an easy way for children to fit more physical activity into their day, is urging parents to pledge to walk to school during Walk to School Week (21 – 25 May 2018) to help in the fight against childhood obesity.

Jenni Wiggle, Director of Local Impact, Living Streets said:

“Childhood obesity is one of the biggest health threats facing the UK. Swapping the school run for a school walk is an easy way for families to fit more activity into their day and take the fight against obesity into their own hands.”

The Government previously recognised the importance of increasing the number of children walking to school with a commitment in the obesity strategy to setting a ‘clear target to increase the number of children walking to school’.

Schools can use their recently doubled PE and Sport Premium budget, funded by the ‘Sugar Tax’, to invest in active travel initiatives; such as classroom packs for Walk to School Week.

 

There is so much attention put on the ‘sugar tax’ and eating better that we can be forgiven for forgetting that moving more is also part of the solution to childhood obesity. Walking to school not only helps children to maintain a healthy weight but is also great for their mental wellbeing and can help reduce harmful air pollution around school gates by taking cars off the road. It should be considered as one of the best options to improve our children’s health.

Jenni Wiggle, Director of Local Impact, Living Streets

Parents and carers that pledge to take part in this Living Streets’ Walk to School Week will be sent ideas on how to make the walk to school safer, easier and more enjoyable. And, as an extra incentive, everyone who pledges will go into a prize draw to win £40 shopping vouchers.