Never before has children’s health been deemed a ‘national emergency’, with increasing concern that unhealthy lifestyles will lead to lower life expectancy for this generation of young people compared to previous ones.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that childhood obesity is one of the most severe global public health challenges this century. Public Health England statistics show that 1 in 5 four and five year olds start reception overweight, and 1 in 10 are obese.
There are similar warnings about a national emergency regarding young children’s oral health. Almost a third of 5 year olds are suffering from tooth decay, and it is the most common single reason for children under 5 to go under general anaesthetic in hospital.
It’s no coincidence that rising tooth decay and increased obesity levels are happening at the same time. Poor nutrition has contributed to this, but a lack of physical activity has also a played a major role. Guidelines state that young children must have exposure to 180 minutes of physical activity per day, but we know this is much lower. Recent research has indicated that a frightening three-quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates.
It is evident that there is a national crisis on our hands regarding children’s health, and it is imperative that early years settings get involved in this agenda. Early educators and practitioners on the front line have a key role in promoting healthy diet and exercise, and more than ever before, the sector must create a role for itself to ensure a positive, health and bright future for our children.
To find out how you can be more proactive in supporting your children to be healthy, book on to 4Children’s upcoming national conference, Healthy Children, Bright Futures: Addressing Key Health Issues for Under 5s. The conference will address the top health concerns and the impact on children while delivering hands-on workshops focusing on nutrition, physical activity and oral health. Delegates will walk away with practical tips and tools to implement in their settings that will contribute to improving the overall health of children.
For more information, visit http://www.4children.org.uk/Event/Detail/HealthConference.