Healthy weight in children is a foundation for physical, emotional and social wellbeing. Like a good education or living in a supportive family and community it can help an individual to reach their full potential. Being overweight or obese can shorten life expectancy and increase the risk of developing many diseases including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults; increasing the likelihood of developing health problems later in life. Overweight and obese people may also suffer from stress, low self-esteem, social disadvantage and depression. A recent report 'State of the Nation' by the Children’s Food Trust highlights the high levels of sugar, saturated fat and salt in children’s diets as well as the problems parents face in encourage their children to make healthy choices as well as maintaining access to nutritious food and drink.
The prevalence of obesity among both children and adults has increased sharply in recent years. It is estimated by the Department of Health that diseases related to overweight and obesity cost the NHS in Torbay £44 million in 2010. The latest data available (2015-16) for the excess weight (overweight and obese combined) rate in reception year pupils is 24.2% (330 pupils) and for year six pupils is 33.3% (380 pupils). The latest adult data available indicates that excess weight in Torbay is running at approximately 68% (2 in 3 adults) and the prevalence of obesity is 24%.
Maintaining a healthy diet and meeting recommended levels of physical activity are now as important as ever if society is to combat the obesity epidemic. Of major significance to the education sector - there is a wealth of evidence to show that diet has a high impact on behaviour, concentration, achievement and attainment (Public Health England, 2014).
It is increasingly clear that schools have a vital role to play in contributing to healthy weight via improved nutrition. Under Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework, which came into force in September 2015, inspectors assess how “children and learners keep themselves healthy, including through healthy eating”. Inspectors will look at “the food on offer and visit the canteen to see the atmosphere and culture in the dining space and the effect this has on pupils’ behaviour.” Inspectors will also look at the “breadth and balance of the curriculum, of which practical cookery is now a part.”
With the Ofsted inspection framework including a clear focus on food, healthy eating and food culture, there’s no better time to be developing your school’s approach to food.