Thought for the week – obesity

With one week until the new school year, I watched this clip on London 2012 (see also clips for use in school).

In it, Lord Coe, talks of “inspiring young people to chose sport, whoever they are, whatever they do and whatever they believe”.

I also listened to a debate on five live radio about the most recent report published by the Lancet about obesity. Read the article below for more detail.

In summary, they predict that obesity levels in the UK could be as high as 40% by 2030.

These two story lines are so close and yet so far apart. One talks about the dream of children everywhere being inspired to be physically active, the other talks of the reality that fewer and fewer people are making healthy lifestyle choices.

Clearly, the solutions to this problem a far reaching and complex, with a combination of interventions necessary to prevent the ever increasing number of people becoming obese in the country. The Lancet talks of measures linked to food, lifestyle and surgery.

However, it is obvious that one area can have a direct impact on what life choices people make, and that is education.

Which other person has access to so many young people (the time when beliefs and principles are shaped for life) in a physical activity context that could have such a significant impact on influencing their future life choices than the PE teacher?

Health has always been on the national curriculum in one form or another. But how many PE departments deliver this effectively? Discrete units of work, or embedded in the wider curriculum? Either way, it seems that a large percentage of school leavers stop playing competitive sport or being physically active. So are we really doing justice to young people or are we failing them? (it’s worth noting that the PESSCL strategy has gone a long way to improving the links between schools and sports clubs, and hopefully increasing the number going into senior sport, however, many do not choose to lead the healthy and active lifestyle we all hoped they would).

Final thought
Should the success of school PE departments be judged on how many of their school leavers adopt healthy lifestyles in terms of diet, physical activity levels, etc (and not just the number of sporty kids that end up playing for a local club), as opposed to how well they can play a particular sport/s.

Should PE Departments prioritise healthy lifestyle choices over and above all other aspects of the curriculum?

I’ll be thinking more about how much focus we give this in our department this year. See notes on ‘labels explained’ page about KS4 core PE to see how we address Health at Culverhay.


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