Childhood obesity is one of the pressing issues of our generation. By the start of primary school, almost a quarter of children in England are overweight or obese.1 This rises to over a third by the time children leave Year 6. Obesity in children starting Reception has risen for the second year in a row. Naturally, this issue is a high priority for the government, and the recently published obesity strategy sets out the responsibility we all have to support young people in meeting the challenge. Obesity in children happens for complex reasons. Every child is influenced by many factors and we do not have a full understanding of how these factors interact when it comes to individual children. However, the messages reaching children need to consistently reinforce the importance of choices that lead to better health. Without this, the attractions of sugar, fat and inactivity will more often win the day over healthier choices. Schools have an important role to play in reinforcing these messages. They also have responsibility for a curriculum that gives children a solid body of knowledge about healthy living and the skill to pursue it. Children need to learn how our bodies work, why physical health is important and how to prepare food. They need to grow in competence in sport and physical pursuits so that being active is enjoyable for them as well as challenging.
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