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New Research Shows Nature Makes Kids Happier

As my own anecdotal experience tells me (as a big advocate for taking our children hiking in the local woodlands.) Research has now been able to demonstrate a scientific link between being out and about in nature and feeling good.

 


A study released on Wednesday in the journal Frontiers in Psychology researchers studied the direct link between a group of kids “connectedness to nature” and their sustainable behaviours and happiness.

The study asked 300 children to fill in a questionnaire about how they perceive nature from how they feel when they see wild animals to the joy of smelling flowers and hearing birdsong. The children who measured as having good connection to nature also showed some other interesting results.

Connected to nature is defined by the researchers as;
"Thinking and feeling emotionally connected with all the elements of the natural environment, with feeling happier as a consequence."

 


The kids who scored higher on nature connection also were more likely to engage in altruism, help people, care for the environment, recycle, save water and perhaps more interestingly they were more likely to state they believed in equality between race, sex and financial standing.

The same children scored higher on the happiness scale.
As a parent who recently paid for his son to attend a weekly gardening club whose toddler also goes to forest school. I’m, feeling pretty validated. I know getting your hands dirty and understanding your environment is a big part of what made my childhood fun. But above happiness it seems according to the researchers they believe we owe it to the planet to ensure that the future custodians of our environment learn to love it and develop their other altruistic tendencies in the process.

"They are future consumers of products, entrepreneurs, decision-makers, workers, and depending on the environmental education received, their connection with nature, environmental awareness and environmental values are the future of the environment, too," said Dr. Laura Barrera-Hernández, author of the study.

With the ever growing trend of forest and beach schools gaining momentum it makes sense to give children the benefit of the outdoors when their online role models are influencing them to sit down and watch video games, streamers and YouTube for hours on end.

 


Allowing kids to exist outdoors whatever the weather is culturally embedded in the Finnish education system we recently wrote about where kids get regular exercise and outdoor time during the school day to encourage their development and morale.

So why would we suggest going outside when we are retailing standing desks? Well two reasons.


The first being that using our classroom friendly Eiger standing desks means groups of kids can easily be taken outside if it’s a nice day as the desks are extremely portable and can be disassembled, moved and re-assembled in a matter of minutes. Many of our clients are schools who do this regularly to give their kids some much needed outdoor time.

 


We wrote recently how one in eight kids don’t even play outside.

A 2015 study also showed adults benefit from being outside and report less negative thoughts and general increase in mental health. So the same applies to office workers who might want to take their laptop to the local park with our outdoor Eiger carry bags this outdoor office can be achieved in a matter of minutes.

 



Secondly standing desks are part of our prescription for a holistic approach to good physical wellbeing and overall mental health. They are not a cure-all. They can be and should be used as part of a healthy lifestyle shift. Using a standing desk all day and not moving when doing so is fundamentally not much better than sitting extensively.

Using a standing desk to encourage movement is the optimal way to benefit from having one. So taking regular movement breaks to get a glass of water of walking to the loo a little farther away are all great habits to get into when standing at work or school to increase the micro movements needed to burn calories and release physical tensions.

 


The need for mobility is one of the reasons we have leaned towards portable designs in our desks. Stationary desk users are less likely to more and improve their physical literacy.

So what’s the main take away here?


• Whether child or adult, there’s now a scientifically proven benefit to getting outside into nature.
• Kids who engage with nature basically become better, nicer and happier people.
• Standing desks can be a great way to get your classroom outside and still learning.
• Standing desks are part of the solution and should be used in conjunction with cultural and behavioural changes that see you using your body more and being more mindful to truly get the most out of the standing desk movement.

 

Source

Full article →

NHS Mental Health Head Wants to Ban Loot Boxes

Loot boxes may have run into their end of game boss in the form of UK Mental Health Director Claire Murdoch. Murdoch has called for the removal of loot box based systems from games bought by children. The case against loot boxes is not a new one and gaming as a whole has only recently been classified as an potentially addictive activity however with top ten developers utilising the services of addiction consultants to intentionally make their games habit forming it seems the NHS is waking up to the issue and calling for a change.

 

 

‘Frankly no company should be setting kids up for addiction by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes. No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance, so yes those sales should end’

NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch in a statement published by The NHS

 

This is first time a leading figure in the NHS has called for a stop to loot boxes. Which Belgium already qualify as 'gambling'. For those that don't know loot boxes are systems within a video game or app where you can earn or purchase crates or packages which give you various chances for tiered rewards. The higher the tier, the lower the chance that it will be a prize from your loot box. They work like a slot machine and encourage the player to self soothe by giving themselves a serotonin boost when they pop another crate, often following a loss in a game. The items available in the loot crates are often unavailable through regular play or require hundreds or even thousands of hours of grinding to acquire them all.

Some of the biggest games played by children utilise the loot crate system to massive profit. Games such as Fortnite, Call of Duty, Fifa and Rocket League all make huge sums selling loot crates. (Although Rocket League has recently adapted its system to make most items outright purchasable to presumably sidestep to oncoming legislation which seem increasingly likely to be brought into law in the UK following the recent NHS position.)

In 2017 the UK Gambling Commission said loot boxes do not qualify as gambling under current British law, however opinion on the matter is starting to shift and the systems are intentionally exploitative and designed exactly like gambling machines. The only reason they are perceptibly not considered gambling is the inability to officially convert your earnings into real money however this is entirely possible through a growing digital item black market available through eBay, Facebook groups and dedicated websites which will pay you real cash for your digital items.

 


So what can a parent do?

> Understand the games your children are playing and identify if those games contain loot box systems.


> Turn off in app purchases from devices such as phones or tablets and remove the stored credit card details on your children's consoles to avoid any unexpected bills.

 
> Speak to your child and explain to them that loot boxes are designed to entice players to spend hours playing the game and spend money. Most games can still be played and completed without using loot boxes. 

Importantly it’s time to start observing the PEGI in game ratings which are generally ignored by parents but exist to ensure the content we allow them to binge is age appropriate. Take a look at the following ratings guide to get to grips with it.

 


So not only should you be looking to ensure your children aren’t overdosing on screen time it’s time to start considering the content they play and how that may be designed with gambling systems and addiction habit creating mechanisms.

Around 39 per cent of British teenagers spent money on gambling in 2018, according to a report by the Gambling Commission entitled Young People and Gambling 2018.

A report on Parent Zone shows that nearly half a million kids have gambled on an in game item at least once. Put some time aside to discuss in game loot boxes with your child and set some boundaries.

Standing to Game
Video games are not inherently bad. Many video games are well designed entertaining or educational experiences which do not contain loot boxes. If you or your child play video games then a standing desk can be an excellent way to ensure that screen time isn’t necessarily couch time and reap some calorie burning benefits whilst you indulge the hobby.

Our standing desks are used by gamers for streaming sessions or casual play and ensure that players can give their best with the added benefit of freedom of movement, greater blood oxygenation and eye level monitors.

Players experience heightened attentiveness and better results whilst standing to play. Streamers benefit from navigating traditionally long sitting sessions and have improved health and engagement with their audience. You can check out our range of standing desks here.

Summary:
Companies are predatory, they will continue to create systems to extract money from their customers and if their users are children this means they are just going to do it more divisively and sneakily to side step changing laws. The NHS making a stand now and calling for a ban may lead to more regulation however it’s heavily under regulated for the time being so parents need to buckle in for a battle for your children’s minds and your wallets against the brightest characters, peer pressure and predatory games companies. Fight the good fight and be sure not to quash the fun in the meantime or you'll simply become the enemy.


Teach yourself to understand the games and what they contain. Open dialogue and honest explanations go a long way with children. Their adult response may just surprise you.

Further reading: What are loot boxes?

Full article →

Bakeoff Judge: "Bad Mums Give Kids Junkfood"

or..."Bake-off Judge Takes A Break from Peddling Cakes on the Idiot Box to Say Bad Mums Fill Lunchboxes with 'Junk'"

Prue Leith, a judge from the Great British Bake-off TV show said home packed lunch boxes should be banned after detailing how she believes 'most mums' fill them with Junk food.

 

 

She argued that the habit of putting a treat in the lunchbox everyday should be curtailed and treats should not be a daily occurrence for kids. She believes the daily treat habit had directly contributed to the ongoing and very real obesity crisis the country’s young people are enduring right now.

Leith when speaking to Ben Shepard and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain said unfortunately a sandwich and a piece of fruit isn’t the average daily lunchbox and that schools should be

"Using lunch times to teach kids about healthy eating."

One comment on twitter agreed some stricter rules for parents might be a good idea but a country wide ban on lunchboxes made by parents is "ridiculous" another comment seemed pretty grounded in the real world read;

 

 

“Prue, who’s paying for these school dinners once you ban packed lunches? I couldn’t afford it for my children so packed lunches are our option. Ok for all you rich folk.”

As a parent who deals with packing multiple school lunches through the week I can say with absolute certainty that whilst there may be some parents who 'phone-it-in' that creating packed lunches with variability and healthy contents is a task on top of a million others that a reality TV judge has no place weighing in on. The obesity crisis is an issue however putting the fix firmly in the hands of the parents and not the corporations preying on children’s via online influencers and kid friendly mascots or fun house fast food environments is misdirected culpability.

Yes schools should educate children about healthy eating, I wonder if Leith knows that 2020's curriculum changes have been designed to do exactly that? Yes kids shouldn't necessarily have the added calories of a treat a day however the calorie issue could be being tackled not by depriving children of a simple snack based treat with their school lunches but by a cultural shift away from sedentary behaviour and towards creating active kids who would still have a calorie deficit even with a snack in their daily diets if their physical activity levels were anything like the recommended daily hour medical experts suggest they should be undertaking.

 

 

There is a certain irony of someone whose TV show illustrates high sugar food in the form of cakes spouting off about kid’s school dinners. Someone whose income is based off people couch potation in front of the TV engaging her content. A certain irony to the format she chooses to reel this information off i.e. once again whilst being on TV ...one of the big contributors to sedentary behaviour since we invented the settee.

How about we ban Televisions. Or cakes? The benefits would be huge compared to snack management in children’s school dinners. How about we include a standing desk in every classroom or better yet one for each child? The idea that this is on the parents or another responsibility to add to the schools to do list alongside delivering a new national curriculum, and educating children on the ever growing debacle that is understanding modern day sexual diversity. I believe schools probably have enough to do keeping up with the times and the majority of parents are overwhelmed enough already.

 

 

Changes need to be long-term, passive and easily maintained and remarks suggesting bad mums give kids snacks or schools need to add to their over exhausted workload are remiss  when Leith operates in a predatory industry peddling sugar for a living.

But hey! maybe parents should take some note from this and maybe tone down the sugary snacks and drinks because yes in actual fact despite me playing devil’s advocate parents absolutely are involved in shaping their children’s attitudes towards sugary and fatty foods and in this day and age when every Instagrammer or big time YouTuber has your child’s ears we are all up against it anyway.

 

 

So dig deep and 'lest you be judged' by Leith perhaps help your child understand why they might start making healthy choices for themselves and maybe you can become the biggest influencer in their upbringing once again. Like the good old days before you needed a social account to be relevant to your kids. 

 

Further reading:

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Kids (Spoiler: Stand More)

Report On Childhood Obesity

Teach Kids To Cook

Full article →

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Kids

With Christmas day just behind us it's time to start looking forward to the New Year and those inevitable news year’s resolutions and start looking at your family's future with 2020 vision. 

Typically new year resolutions don't last much longer than about 8 weeks if your pretty dedicated but experts recommend making changes which aren’t so dramatic but several small effective changes are great so that you can stick to them throughout the year. 


Now we'll all sit there with bloated bellies after indulging a little too much and conspire to attend the gym, change our eating habits and start googling the latest trendy diet which cuts out ketones or carbohydrates but very few of us are sparing a thought for our children. The gleeful recipients of a multitude of selection boxes, mince pies and Christmas puddings. The influx of devices as Xmas presents also push back against any notion of any movement or outdoor activity getting a look in.

One thing which never changes over the years is that kids also over indulge at Christmas and if we don't allow them to its easy feel like monsters. So let’s be fair and say that chocolate and sweets have probably been on the menu over December but it's time to think of our children’s waistlines, minds and body health when we consider how to plan news year resolutions that include our kids.

It's proven that healthy children go on to become healthier adults with fewer health related conditions, have better activity habits and live longer lives. So getting into the habit of planning some yearlong changes to improve health could be a good ritual to introduce your kids to so long as you all work together to ensure these changes can stick for more than a few weeks into January.

So here's 5 healthy kids New Year resolution suggestions for your little ones to combat the Christmas time crash. To shake off the screen time sedentary creep and get back into good habits. Parents and schools can work together this year to ensure kids learn to think for themselves and put their own health first.

1. Healthy Colourful School Dinners

80% of kids don't eat enough vegetables. So introduce an idea that you and your offspring can get into. Eat at least three or four colours on your plate every lunch time. This means that even if you’re brood regularly dine on kid’s favourite chicken nuggets and chips they might be tempted to also opt for some greens or sweetcorn, peppers or another colourful vegetable substitute.

This year we wrote about an excellent campaign called Veg Power which encourages kids to "eat them to defeat them" and take down the evil vegetable horde by crunching through them one by one. This campaign is inspired and schools can even encourage uptake by requesting poster and sticker packs here.



2. The Daily Mile

The daily miles was conceived to ensure every child has the chance to include activity and physical movement in their day and to encourage healthy daily habits no matter the child’s socio-economic background. Statistically more effluent families have better access to healthy physical activities, go out more and eat healthier. No surprise really when you consider how much more expensive it is to eat healthily these days. Well one headteacher came up with an idea which has spread across the country. 

The daily mile encourages kids and teachers to fun for 15 minutes each school day before class. This not only encourages children to be aware and responsible for their own health but its inclusive and yields positive academic results.

 


Exercise before lessons improves test results, increases student participation and benefits the overall student experience by affecting the class morale and mood in a positive way. Students feel better and become better learners. Ask your school if they have considered participating in the daily mile in 2020. Your kids can join the 2.3 million other pupils now running a mile a day and you can see your child’s school doing their bit to ensure our kids grow up happy and healthy.

3. Standing Desks for Kids

Introducing your kids to standing desks in 2020 represents one of those changes that could well last the year. Children take to lifestyle changes such as introducing standing to their workstations exceptionally well. It’s inspiring to see how well students and kids at home take to the introduction of standing in their daily routine. Sedentary behaviour is a learnt behaviour. I’m reminded of an anecdote I heard this of one parent asking another parent how they 'got their kids to read' the lady on the subway was reading a book at the time and her child was quietly doing to the same. She replied. "It seems to me that kids don't like to do what you tell them to. However they do what you show them."

This is true for physical activity and standing. Kids whose parents stand whilst they work like to join in and work just like their parents and they find the whole transition a whole lot easier the earlier we introduce it. Reports from schools that introduce standing desks are entirely positive. Read some here. 

You can help your child’s school to take up standing desks in the classroom by signposting them to this free try before you buy trial of the Eiger Standing Desk or for your child at home you can pick up a desk from our range right here.

4. Read Together.

The above anecdote aside. Not only will your kids read more if they see you doing but one of the traits of successful parents is reading with their children. New York State University School of Medicine found that babies whose parents read to them develop better literacy, language and reading skills much earlier.

"We compared children from the same social backgrounds who achieved similar tested abilities at ages five and 10, and discovered that those who frequently read books at age 10 and more than once a week when they were 16 had higher test results than those who read less, In other words, reading for pleasure was linked to greater intellectual progress, in vocabulary, spelling, and mathematics."

- Dr. Alice Sullivan

Reading with your children will pass on a love of books which will not only improve their academic outlook but give them an interest that can only benefit them in later life. Good mental health is essential for good overall health.  So show your kids how to love books and you'll be giving them a gift that will last a lifetime. Visiting a library with your kids will encourage them to read more. 

5. Device Free Zoning 

Research shows that the blue light from the devices you and your children have glued to your face all day including before bed can inhibit the production of the chemical the body needs to induce sleep.

Not only this but an abundance of screen time is linked to reduced motor skills, attention deficit and a host of other health problems stemming from the sedentary nature of screen time. So be it your kitchen at dinner times (A good idea is to spend more time around the family dinner table together so this is a good shout) or the family room or even one of their own bedrooms, but whichever you or your kids pick. Make them involved in the decision and make sure the rule sticks.


So we not suggesting you turn into a strict and unrelenting parent for 2020 but the careful introduction of some of these ideas might just allow you to push back against the poor habits we all slip into over the festive season and get your kids thinking for themselves and adopting healthier choices when a little encouragement and a framework delivered by your conscientious parenting and modelling.

FURTHER INFO

Veg Power write up on iwantastandingdesk.com 

The literacy trust has a campaign to let you buy other kids books.  

383,775 children in the UK don’t have a single book of their own. You can donate by text here is how.

Full article →

Study Shows Our Kids Will Be Sick Longer In Late Life

New data shows children born today will spend more time in ill health when they are older than our generation. Meanwhile new data from the office of national statistics has also shown that 65 and overs are seeing their life expectancy increase. Men aged 65 are averaging an increase in life expectancy of 32 weeks whilst women can expect to live an extra 20 weeks approximately.

The study found that Richmond-upon-Thames men can expect to live to just shy of 72 years whilst Blackpool men have a healthy life expectancy of only 53 years.

For women in Nottingham a 'healthy life expectancy' is only 54 years but by contrast a baby girl in Wokingham can expect to live to 72. A significant disparity of 18 years.


source: Guardian


Before 2012 large life expectancy gains year after year were expected now those gains are decreasing massively. Today’s children can expect to live 5 years less than their parents. This is a dramatic decline in health due to prevailing failing support for the health of young people and an increase in cancer causing sedentary lifestyles and screen time addiction.

 



What can schools do to help encourage their pupil’s to live healthy lifestyles? Well aside from delivering health education the schools can ensure than they provide opportunity for pupils to learn in active classrooms. This means the provision of flexible seating options, standing desks for kids and help kids reach the advised daily targets of 60 Mins exercise a day to help them stay healthy.

Schools doing this are already reaping the benefit as they report that pupil engagement increases, test results improve and general class atmosphere benefits when standing desks are introduced.

Schools wishing to try out standing desks the classrooms for themselves can try before you buy by filling in this form.

There are options such as the daily mile, BBC super-movers and marathon kids which encourage pupils to move regularly and integrate physical literacy into their daily rituals.

Lets work together to push back against the decline of out nations health. Surely we owe it to the next generation to make changes now before they spend more and more of their adult life suffering from ill-health and shorter lives.

 

Further reading:

Meet the school putting mental health first.

Kids become less active every year of primary school.

Full article →

Sugar Free Schools & Smoking Doctors

This week sees several interesting news items surrounding kid’s health making the headlines. So rather than pick one out to write about we decided to bring you a news week breakdown focusing on kid’s health and education. So let’s get into it. 

Dentists Call For Sugar Free Schools.
This week saw Dentists asking schools in England to go sugar-free after the launch of a new report which indicates the leading reason children are admitted into hospital between the age of five and nine is for tooth decay. The faculty of dental surgery has suggested supervised tooth brushing in schools. (These actually occur in Scotland and Wales already.)


They have put forward several suggested action points to combat the issues of tooth early onset tooth decay.

- Schools should become sugar free.
- Price increase sugary dairy drinks such as milkshakes.
- Reduce the amount of adverts for sugary food and drink.
- Lower the sugar content of baby food.

"It is incredibly worrying that levels of tooth decay among children in England remain so high. Everyone needs to play their part in ensuring our children have healthy, happy teeth." - Professor Michael Escudier, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery

Source.


New Tool for Assessing Screen Time Addiction


A peer reviewed journal, Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking found that more than 12% of kids aged nine to twelve are at risk of becoming addicted to digital devices.

The system for assessment borrows diagnostic criteria from the Digital Addiction Scale for Children (DASC) and measures the impact of screen time on the family unit, the likelihood the child is to lie about their use and the likelihood that problems arise from overuse such as sleep deprivation, academic slipping and more.

The addiction criteria were: preoccupation, tolerance, withdrawal, mood modification, conflict, and relapse. Now this might not seem like a huge news item but we live in an age where screen time is having direct consequences on how children’s brains are structured. A study released in November shows that more screen time means lower structural integrity of white matter tracts in parts of the brain responsible for language, literacy and emotional regulation.

Young people are now being diagnosed with a recognised disorder of gaming addiction because they legitimately experience symptoms of withdrawal and are controlled by their desire to play. No surprise when you consider how gaming companies now employ addiction consultants to implement game mechanics to cultivate exactly this response.

Info on the brain study can be found here.

"Screen-based media use is prevalent and increasing in home, childcare and school settings at ever younger ages, these findings highlight the need to understand effects of screen time on the brain, particularly during stages of dynamic brain development in early childhood, so that providers, policymakers and parents can set healthy limits." - Dr. Hutton.

Ways to monitor screen time addiction seems like a necessary response to a problem which is quietly growing in impact. Teachers and parents, take note. Screen time isn't just another boogie man. Overuse has direct consequences on your children's brain functions, sleep patterns, mood regulation and cognitive ability. As we live in the tech age where kids are grabbing iPads instead of books please remember that doctors used to endorse smoking before the general consensus was that they kill you.

 

From the collection of Stanford Research Into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising

 

New study suggests brain differences may be linked to obesity.
So this piece is interesting in terms of how it links brain differences and obesity which should the thinking that they are heavily connected become mainstream this could directly influence how we equip education work-spaces.

The recent study doesn't suggest that intelligence dips alongside weight gain but it does show a reduction in executive brain function alongside increased BMI.

Some critics say that studies such as these are dangerous because poor interpretation of the results can lead to unfair stigma attached to overweight people but an editorial which was published alongside the results called it "an important addition to mounting evidence of a link between weight, brain structure and mental function."

 

 

We have release many articles in this blog which demonstrates the mounting evidence that physical movement and active lifestyles directly affect academic results and even raises test score results. There are Ted Talks to this affect for those interested in learning more.

The study.

In short: These findings suggest that body mass index is associated with cortical development and diminished executive functions, such as working memory and might directly impact how in the future we look to treat obesity by improving brain function and vice versa.

The study yielded an insightful comment from one Henry Skinner MD Family Psychiatry of Maine who explains that should the cause and effect be reversed that the results might make more sense. I.e. "People with executive function challenges have more difficulty negotiating the toxic capitalist nutrition environment."

 

 

Is it simply a case of lower functioning adolescents falling vulnerable to a hostile predatory marketing machine and making ill-advised choices. Well according to Skinner child and adolescent psychiatrists observe this in clinic frequently and he believes this is the more likely reasoning for the results given that it requires fewer assumptions. (Occam ’s razor)

News Source 

Summary
So just some interesting titbit’s from the children’s health community. One thing is for sure is there is an ever growing notion that schools have the time and resources to fix every child’s health problems which is simply not the case but schools are well positioned to educate kids to make better choices and learning spaces which afford students the opportunity to include movement in their daily routines are certainly an effortless way schools can support their students mental and physical health.

We offer schools standing desk trials for this exact reason. If you want to try before you buy then visit this form and get In touch.

Full article →

Meet The School Putting Mental Health First

A film by Daniel Gordon has been released lauding one London Primary School for introducing a series of measures to combat the growing trend of poor mental health in children.

[You can watch the video here]

Highgate Primary School, has embraced several innovative measures to improve their pupils mental well-being, from dogs in the playground, sound proofed classrooms and the availability of talk therapy and psychotherapy for each student.


The school has normalised the process of attending therapy so each child feels no stigma should they wish to use the service.

The school is said to be delivering a 'well-being first’ approach. They offer on the premises drama therapy, and talk therapy which one in ten of the schools pupils attend. Most of the therapists are trainees or new graduates so with the combination of some charity funding and a small investment of £7000 per year from the school they are able to directly tackle the rise of mental health disorders in young people which is on the rise throughout the UK.

Watch the video and you can see the school has its own dog and also allows dogs to attend the school premises at drop off and pickup times.

 


Highgate has implemented 5 key measures to combat poor mental health.

1. Availability of Therapy
2. Dogs are allowed on site.
3. Soundproofed classrooms.
4. Lessons outside.
5. School is for parents too.

Every child has some lessons outside where they can engage with each other and climb trees. The classroom soundproofing allows teachers to command attention without raising their voices due to improved acoustics and the parents of pupils can also access the onsite therapists meaning the impact on the community doesn't just stop at the children but can resonate outwards to have a positive effect on the children’s households which can only help support a culture of well-being at home.

The amount of children attending Highgates onsite therapists is statistically mirrored by the data released from NHS digital last year that indicated one in nine children experience mental health disorders. That figure is for 5-15 year old's however if we broaden the scope to 5-19 year old's the figure becomes one in eight.

 


In the age group of 17-19 year olds one in four young women have a mental health disorder, emotional disorders such as anxiety ranking the highest. Over half of these reportedly have attempted suicide or self-harm.

Statistics like these are an important warning that the impacts of mental health disorders are very real and schools who go out of their way to combat the issues should be applauded and considered to delivering best practise.

 


Whilst many argue that schools already have a priority to educate and aren’t qualified to deliver therapy this school has shown how the introduction of several small but effective measures can shift the culture internally to become a learning space which caters for mental health well-being without costing a fortune or requiring massive change to be effective.

The mental health foundation has a 'Make It Count' Campaign which states that Mental Health is not extracurricular. You can find out more about the campaign here.


Mark Rowland Chief Exec of the Mental Health Foundation said

"The school environment has a significant impact on a young person’s emotional welfare. For children’s well being to thrive during school hours, teachers need the confidence and knowledge to nurture young people’s development. Equally, teachers need to be supported with their own mental health throughout their career.


By exploring the root causes that lead to distress, be it body image, relationships or exam stress, we can help build resilience and prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place. "

You can sign the foundations petition to put mental health at the heart of school culture here.


The previous education secretary Damien Hinds said every single school in the country should have a school dog. Here's a video showcasing therapy dogs in schools on channel 5 news.



Now in the spirit of introducing small changes to impact mental health in schools we would be remiss if we didn’t point you towards our try before you buy student standing desk trials.

Start your standing desk trial here.

Hundreds of schools nationwide are becoming healthier and embracing movement and physical literacy to create more attentive learning spaces by introducing standing desks into the classroom.

Take a look at our product range and apply for a trial if your school could benefit from improved engagement, better mental health, happier, better behaved children and improved academic results.







Full article →

1 In 5 Young People Have Been Bullied

A worrying annual report has surfaced on the BBC website this week detailing how one in five young people have been a victim of bullying.

Now three quarters of those bullied said it affected their mental health and they "nearly became depressed" as a result.


The figures mirror last year’s study. The Children's commissioner for England said "More needs to be done at home and in schools to help those who are the victims of bullying and also, crucially, to prevent children from bullying in the first place,”

Over 2000 people between 12 and 20 answered the survey which also assessed prejudice based views around racism, sexism, homophobia, disablism and transphobia.

The survey found;

The most common type of bullying was verbal, with cyberbullying the least common.

 

  • Of those bullied, 33% said that they had suicidal thoughts, while 41% were left feeling anxious.
  • Some 62% were bullied by a classmate and 37% by someone at school they did not know.
  • Nearly two-thirds (59%) believed attitudes towards their appearance were the likely cause of bullying.
  • In the majority of cases, male respondents were more likely to exhibit negative attitudes than females.


Young people’s mental health issues are on the rise in the UK, meanwhile the NHS cancelled 175,000 healthcare appointments focusing on mental health in the last year alone. According to Charity MIND this represents a 25% increase in cancelled appointments of this kind.

 



Now new proposals by Labour have indicated that they will prioritise children’s mental health and have pledged a qualified counsellor will be employed in every secondary school much akin to the American school system who often include school councillors amongst their staff base.

Now in 2017 one in eight 5 to 19 year old's had been diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder.

The BBC site writes; "Announcing plans for "real change", Labour said it would spend £845m per year on its Healthy Young Minds plan."


Iwantastandingdesk.com work with schools to identify solutions for young people with diagnosis who might require a standing desk in their classroom.

This could be a child with ADHD or autism who benefits from the added freedom of movement or improved engagement levels the increased oxygenation and serotonin boost that standing affords them.

 

 

We receive countless anecdotal reports of general mood and mental well-being improving from standing desk users. The Bottom line is standing makes you feel good because your body responds better to small movements and physical activity than it does to sedentary behaviour.

Standing is proven to also increase academic performance and test results.

If you want a "try before you buy" trial at your school just fill in this short form and you can see how well your classrooms respond to standing desks. 



Further Reading:

1 in 10 Children Have Mental Health Problems

Mental Health Issues on the Rise in Primary Schools


SOURCE 

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Fact: Physical Education Boosts Learning

At a time where childhood obesity is being given some well overdue attention It has been reported that University College London (UCL) have released details of a study which indicates that students who are physically active during a lesson have improved results in tests than classmates who choose sedentary learning.

So star jumps, running on the spot or dare we say it,  standing desks which boost physical movement can have a significant effect on pupil’s outcomes within the test environment and to a lesser degree the overall academic results for the year.

The UCL analysed forty two studies from around the world which scraped data from over twelve thousand students between three and fourteen found that integrating physical movement into classes also stimulated pupils overall movement activity levels.

“Physical activity is good for children’s health, and the biggest contributor of sedentary time in children’s lives is the seven or eight hours a day they spend in classrooms.

“Our study shows that physically active lessons are a useful addition to the curriculum. They can create a memorable learning experience, helping children to learn more effectively.” the study’s lead author Dr Emma Norris, from the UCL centre for behaviour change.

Classroom standing desk

Previously delegates at NAHT (The National Association of Head teachers) debated 'physically active learning' to be integrated into the curriculum and have passed a motion to encourage schools to adopt the method.

“There has long been an established body of research about the benefits of exercise on academic learning and many schools already incorporate such exercises into their lessons when they think they will benefit pupils." Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders

One of the analysed studies found that Netherlands children who took part in three physically centred lessons a week attained significantly better results in Maths and English equating to four extra months of learning gains.

We have written before about the benefits of active classes such as those encouraged by the BBC super movers and schools that integrate standing desks into their learning spaces can help students benefit by as much as a 16% improvement in academic performance.

A study on language learning showed improved results from learners who learnt whilst riding a bicycle performed far better than students who learnt whilst sedentary. This was tested at the time and four months later and both tests had improved results for the active learners.

The International Journal of Health Promotion and Education reported students given standing desks are 12% more likely to answer questions and join in class discussions.



Source: The Independent

Schools wanting to integrate standing desks into their classrooms can "Try Before You Buy" the EIGER Student Standing Desk here.

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Chief Medical Officer Report On Childhood Obesity

The government has been called upon in a report released by the outgoing Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davis to adopt her recommended policy changes designed to directly tackle childhood obesity.


The report entitled "Time to Solve Childhood Obesity" asks politicians and policy makers to focus the lasers of their policy making to etch out a future for our children which includes creating and shaping our towns and communities so there are healthy transport options, access to affordable healthy food, and a barrier against often despicable junk food marketing.


Since 1990 obesity levels amongst our children has risen by a whopping 50%. Attributable not only to the emergence of entertainment technology which encourages sedentary lifestyles but also our diets and availability / uptake of physical activity spaces.

Childhood obesity is a real issue that will undoubtedly increase pressures on the NHS over the coming decades as the unhealthy children of today become unfit and obese adults who are statistically more likely to develop health concerns as a result of their weight. These can range from diabetes, heart conditions and cancers to the development of mental health problems as a result of inactivity and isolation.

 


In short, obesity is the enemy and in the absence of a silver bullet to tackle him, measures need to be taken to ensure we are all fit enough to escape him.

The report stresses a need to put our children’s health above the profits of corporations. This is particularly poignant in light of the recent controversial deal agreed this month by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and KP Snacks.

There are 53,000 fast food outlets in England and more than half of them are within 400 Meters of a primary school. The marketing towards children is aggressive and uses social media influencers to create unhealthy behaviour patterns by exposing children to junk food mascots and their online heroes indulging in energy products and unhealthy snacks.


The report asks politicians to take a leaf out of history and in the same way that policies of 1965 protected children from cigarette advertising on TV and the 1989 policies ensuring seat-belts are put on children in cars that modern day politicians should exercise their ability to shape the future landscape by using the law to change our children’s lives for the better.

Startling facts such as unhealthy food being three times cheaper are highlighted throughout the report which quite rightly explains we as a nation are not doing enough to ensure our populations future health. Suggestions on how VAT could be applied differently to healthy versus unhealthy foods illustrate how policy can encourage businesses to adopt healthy ranges over their more expensive unhealthy alternatives.


The road map to combating childhood obesity is a much needed and hopefully it doesn’t fall on deaf ears before it’s too late and the new crisis is a failing NHS due to a spike in obesity related disease and death.

The report main principles being recommended are as follows.

• Re-balance the food and drinks sold to favour healthy options, through regulation.

• Allow children to grow up free from marketing, signals and incentives to consume unhealthy food and drinks.

• Introduce innovative policies that find the win-wins for children’s health and the private sector: E.g. continue private sector sponsorship of major sporting events, facilities and stars, but only allow advertising and sales of their most healthy products on site.

• Invest in and design the built environment to create opportunities for children to be active and healthy.

• Take action to improve: exercise and healthy weight in pregnancy, breastfeeding rates, and infant feeding.

• Ensure schools and nurseries play a central role, supported by Ofsted monitoring. Teachers know that being overweight impacts on children’s lives and they need support to do the right things. Food, drink and physical activity standards should be set and adhered to in all schools and nurseries.

• Ensure our NHS and health sector workforce can deliver what our children and families need to prevent, manage and treat obesity, including having conversations about weight and tackling weight-related stigma.

• Make better use of data to guide practice: e.g. systematically link and share data on children’s weight to intervene early; share private sector data, such as supermarket sales data, with policymakers and researchers

• Protect and prioritise our children’s health and rights while making trade deals. Their health and a healthy environment must come above company profits.

• Develop the evidence base to inform practice and policy.

Those wishing to read the full report can do so here.

Standing Desks for Children's Health

Standing Desks are being implemented by Schools wishing to take responsibility for their pupils health and well being. A "try before you buy" trial of the Eiger Standing Desk is available for your classrooms. Just fill in a simple form and we'll get you started. Here's the form. 

Schools can use pupil and student support premiums to fund the cost of desks and join hundreds of other education centres in the UK to send a message to their communities that they are proactively tackling in-school sedentary habits.

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77% Parents Are More Active Than Their Kids

The Decathalon Activity Index 2019 has shown that 77% of Parents are more active than their children. The survey asked parents to compare activity levels with their kids and even when including P.E. lessons a huge 77% of parents said they exercised more than their kids.

 


If the parent’s child is adult then the figure shot up to 93% showing a huge disparity in (self-perceived) exercise levels between generations. Our children have a 5 years shorter expected lifespan due to the sedentary crisis and given that only 11% of family’s say they exercise together this shows that not enough is being done at home to combat the problem.

Schools who integrate standing desks into their classrooms are doing their bit by stimulating movement and physical literacy but a truly combined effort is the only solution when we look to make a culture shift back towards healthy active lifestyles for our children. Failure to do this sufficiently well, experts say will bring incredible strain to the NHS when sedentary kids become unhealthy, unfit adults with burgeoning health issues associated with obesity such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

 



"We are increasingly disturbed by how often the statistics are showing us that children are just not active enough and the alarm bells haven’t set off across the country yet. Sadly this is the kind of problem that doesn’t make the headlines until the health issues it creates culminates in our NHS coming to a standstill."

- Nick White, Managing Director iwantastandingdesk.com

Parents and schools who want to combat childhood inactivity can invest in student standing desks like the Eiger Student Standing Desk. Schools can request a try before you buy trial for this here.

In July the government published the School Sport and Activity Action Plan where the government outlines their intent to make it so kids have the ability to partake in the recommended 60 mins of physical activity every day. The plan is due to updated later in the year.

 

This image shows how 80's kids were more active than today's youth.



Currently only 17.5% of children meet the required activity levels and this is going to need to dramatically improve if the government’s plan to halve childhood obesity by 2030 by supporting schools and parents enabling kids to lead healthier more active lives is to be realised.


Further reading: Schools May Be Kept Open for Sports in Holidays

The Government’s Sport and Activity Action Plan

Source

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Healthy Schools News Roundup. The Heat is On!

Healthy Schools News Roundup



Poorest children three times more likely to miss out on extra-curricular activities. 

Eleanor Busby from the independent has written about a new study this week which indicates children are three times less likely to do extra-curricular activity if they are from an impoverished family. This includes out of school sport amongst other activities such as music.

The study by the Social Mobility Commission is calling on the government to introduce a bursary scheme to change these rather disturbing figures. Now given the new PM's stance on education and 'not leaving anyone behind' being a big part of his patois in the run up to his taking the role it seems this kind of action might actually happen under the newly introduced New School Sport and Activity Action Plan being touted by the government as a fix for the shocking rise in childhood obesity.

Dame Martina Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said: “It is shocking that so many people from poorer backgrounds never get the chance to join a football team, learn to dance or play music"

Former Education Secretary Damian Hinds added: “The more opportunities we make available to young people, the more chance they have of becoming well-rounded adults who can take on life’s challenges with confidence.”


Number of overweight children rises by a fifth because of lazy summer holidays spent staring at screens

Meanwhile this week the Telegraph have reported the number of overweight children has risen by a fifth because children becoming inactive during the summer holidays. Estimates indicate kids are staring at screens for up to 4 hours a day instead of getting outside and being active.

We also wrote about this last week here where we talk about the government’s plans to keep schools open during the holidays due to be implemented in the governments new plans.


Arrival of the long overdue healthy schools ratings scheme

Following criticism from numerous sources including non-other than celebrity chef Jamie Oliver details of the healthy schools rating scheme has finally seen some light two years later than proposed.

Quite importantly this has not been made mandatory a fact not missed by Jamie who very believes it should be. Schools are being encouraged to fill out a survey to acquire a rating and a report based on their answers with the highest scorers getting a gold silver and bronze award.

The 2016 child obesity plan first proposed the measure which should have up and running by Sept 2017. The major issues here are that its as pretty underwhelming initiative compared to the initial proposals. When originally developed as a strategy it was proposed that parents would be involved in the production the rating scheme for each individual school however now the only mention of a parent is that schools may wish to advise parents of what score they get after getting involved. Furthermore as it isn't mandatory only the schools who already have dedicated themselves to becoming healthier are likely to voluntarily put themselves into the scheme. Until all schools have to it would be likely that schools will mostly just end up with high scores as they wont be entering the scheme if they expect anything less.  Sadly it seems this is now a nice idea poorly executed that won't be making the waves it was conceived to do.



Ofsted Chief Inspector says pupil’s wellbeing at risk as sports are being squeezed out the curriculum.


Ofsted’s chief inspector spoke to the Observer this week and said it is essential that schools leaders include sport and exercise in a balanced education and that Ofsted would begin recognising schools that offer sport and exercise (in and out of school) in a new regime they intend to introduce in September.

“Schools that offer children a broad, balanced education, including plenty of opportunities to get active during the school day and through extracurricular activities, will be rewarded under our new inspection regime.”

Boris Receives Nudge From The Youth Sport Trust


The Youth Sport Trust, A Director of the FA, and many other sport leaders have sent an open letter to Boris Johnson indicating that P.E. hours have received a huge cut since 2017 and that they want the next PM to demonstrate that the government is making the health and wellbeing of children in the country a priority amidst a decline in general mental and physical health culminating in the loss of 5 years estimated life spans for our children.

“physical education has been cut by more than almost any other subject, with over 51,000 hours of curriculum PE lost between 2010 and 2017”

You'll have to excuse the format but its been a hot week for health and education news with much to digest across the media but it does feel like an important week. One where with the new PM in place and lots of public mention of the need for sport and physical literacy for children in this country that perhaps the public perception on how important movement and activity is could be made to genuinely shift.

Let’s hope we all take heed and get more active with our kids and encourage our schools to do the same. The new plan pushed by the government has pledged £2 million Sport England funding to create 400 new after-school ‘satellite clubs’ to get more young people in disadvantaged areas active, as well as additional funding to better coordinate sport programmes and competitions for young people. So let’s make sure when these appear that we make use of them or they won’t be around for long.

 


Schools wishing to include more movement in their classrooms can integrate super movers  videos into their lesson plans, increase their pupils dedicated activity time and reduce the use of solitude booths for SEN and badly behaved kids in favour of more holistic approaches to discipline.

There is no one fits all answer for schools wanting to get more active but certainly opting in to the Healthy Schools rating scheme seems like a great starting point. Many schools have seen benefit by introducing flexible seating options such as Eiger student standing desks. A trial for any school wishing to try before you buy is available here. 

Guidance on the healthy schools rating scheme is available here.

Have a great week and remember when you'rew out and about getting active, please wear sunscreen.

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Soon Welsh Schools Will Decide If They Include P.E.

Despite recent news that two thirds of parents believe that P.E. should get as much importance as the core subjects, the new draft curriculum due to be implemented by the 2022 educational year for Wales includes zero mandatory physical education in the timetable. No set amount of time has been enforced and individual schools can decide how much P.E. time is allocated in the school week.

The Welsh Government said the curriculum "takes into consideration the importance of physical activity" as "wellbeing" is supposedly built into one of six primary areas of focus within the new curriculum.



The NHS are prioritising preventative medicine and health and fitness improvements to stave off disease yet the latest draft curriculum including no P.E. allocation has former gold medallist Baroness Grey-Thomson concerned that in 15 years’ time Wales NHS will feel the strain of a generation of inactive children without the fitness to stay healthy as a consequence of schools minimising or completely removing P.E. from the curriculum.

"If sport is not explicitly mentioned, it will just drop off. Whatever the meaning and the intention, it won't have the same priority.

"We won't see the problem right now, we'll see it 15 or 20 years down the line when the NHS bill goes through the roof because we have a generation of young adults who are just not fit enough to be healthy."

Childhood obesity is at crisis point as obesity related cancer diagnosis spike amongst UK kids...should the latest changes be echoed through the U.K. it will surely impact negatively on the nation’s overall health and the NHS ability to cope. Latest figures show that children’s expected lifespans are now 5 years shorter than ever before and obesity and childhood diabetes is at an all-time high as well.

Many schools are adopting standing desks to inject a culture of physical literacy into their classrooms. (We recently wrote about standing desk classrooms reducing students BMI here) The standing classroom should see an upsurge if the idea of undertaking Physical Ed outside the classroom is possibly phased out in favour of schools working towards stricter timetables to achieve better academic results. Many schools are now allocating their sports premium funding to including standing desk in their learning spaces. Schools wishing to trial before they buy standing desks designed specifically for classrooms can get in touch here.


The baroness chaired a group which recommended that P.E. be made into a core subject and this recommendation was not implemented. Rather the school improvement service for Wales said they believed that their changes would be better for pupils as sport will be used to support learning and will be considered valued by society, "rather than just being something that small groups of individuals benefit from."

The problem with statements such as these are they lack any substance. No references to how sport will be implemented in the absence of P.E. time in the curriculum. Without rules and management how will our children’s Physical education not become a postcode lottery?

Chief exec of sport Wales said the success or failure will rest on the quality of training that teachers receive. A fact which already puts the onus on the schools themselves to change how they include physical education if they do not include specific time for just sport and exercise.

"The essential thing is to build up the confidence, motivation and skills of teachers to be able to deliver a high quality curriculum. But if we don't see that, then this is a curriculum that doesn't actually deliver the changes that we need to see." - Sarah Powell (Sport Wales) The following video shows how important student physical movement impacts the learning environment.

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P.E. As Important As Maths & English to 2/3rds of Parents.

A poll conducted by YouGov for the Youth Sports Trust surveyed 2071 adults and the results indicate that P.E. is just as important to parents as maths, science and English. Two thirds of parents believe P.E. should get as much time in the curriculum as the core subjects.

Almost half of the parents surveyed believe that it is wrong to take kids out of P.E. for extra tuition in English, Maths and Science.

Meanwhile it has come to light that P.E. has received tuition time cuts putting the subject as the 2nd most cut from our children’s schedules next to ICT.

 

Children need P.E. but should it muscle out the core subjects?

Children need P.E. but should it muscle out the core subjects?


Alison Oliver, chief executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: “Pupils are being taught fewer hours of physical education than they were a decade ago,” she said.

“The wellbeing of young people is in decline, with too many struggling with issues that a good quality physical education could support them with.

“Provision of opportunities to enjoy sport, play and physical activity should be a core part of every young person’s education. We passionately believe that a transformed physical education should be on a par with maths and English in the curriculum.”

The Youth Sport Trust is holding National School Sport Week, from 24 to 28 June.

8,200 schools have taken part in national sport week since 2014. Readers can find out more about the National School Sport Week here and register their involvement. The first 500 schools to submit their registration will all receive a National School Sport Week bonus pack including bunting to decorate their school.



A Department for Education spokesperson said that the government has doubled its P.E. and sport premium funding to £320 million a year.

What’s the takeaway here? No this writer doesn't agree that physical education should hold as much curriculum time as the core subjects however it is indicated that the majority of parents believe that physical literacy is important and should be a main concern for our children.

Standing desks promote physical literacy in kids and are available to try before you buy for schools using this link. It has been proven that children who are physically literate and include movement in their daily routine go on to become healthier, happier adults. We all want that for our children... so what can you do? If you're a parent or teacher you can get behind your schools health programs and make sure your children are exercising. This could be holding classes out in the playground or integrating standing desks into your learning spaces. Some schools are now starting to tap into their sport premium funding for standing desk purchases whilst school PTA's are even supporting their schools by funding standing desks for their kids.


Children’s life expectancy are now 5 years shorter due to low physical and mental health. It's time to curb the trend of low physical activity and stomp on the sedentary habits demonstrated by our children. Reduce screen time and let them play outside more. (One in eight kids don't play outside!)

Exercise, Fresh air and vitamin C are regarded as miracle cures we are so desperately in need of. Maybe you agree with this writer that exercise should be encouraged but not in place of the core subjects or you believe P.E. should be getting more timetable space. It seems the majority of parents agree that physical literacy matters...and serious change needs to occur to give out children those 5 years back. 

Source: Times Educational Supplement

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Warning Signs of Obesity Appear From Age 2

Should 2 Year Olds Be Measured To Red Flag Childhood Obesity?

The Mail online seems to think so. Following conversations with Manchester Uni researchers who have determined that you may be able to see early warning signs of childhood and possible future adult obesity from as early as two years old.

Research has shown us that if children are overweight at primary age they are more likely to be overweight adults. As part of the National Child Measurement Programme, children are weighed and measured at school in reception and year 6. The information is used by the NHS to plan and provide better health services for children.


New independent research undertaken at the University of Manchester and published in the peer-reviewed journal Preventive Medicine Reports explains there is a connection with early growth patterns and the likelihood of later life obesity. Following an interview with the researchers the Mail Online has produced an article stating that children should be weighed from age 2 in order to try and predict those with possible future obesity risk. The researchers stating that only collecting the data twice during schooling allows for at risk children to be missed.



The researchers harnessed results from over 1000 other studies from all around the world and collated the results to extrapolate their findings. The sheer breadth of the subject studies means it's difficult to specific how applicable the results are just for the UK school kids however the study does seem to illustrate clearly that early growth patterns can be used as a clear red flag for later life obesity and this information should potentially be built into our early assessment and preventative NHS model being touted by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

( We wrote about this here NHS To Embrace Preventative Innovations to Prevent Illness and here Prevention is better than Cure - New Report Published by NHS )

“Right now, the obesity epidemic is probably the worst it’s ever been,” says Daniel Ganjian, MD, paediatric obesity specialist.

Public Health England has produced slides to illustrate the childhood obesity data updated in June 2017.



Research has shown that integrating standing desks into classrooms reduce the students BMI in just a year. With the childhood obesity crisis hitting record breaking highs, is it time to start asking your school what they are doing to combat the issue? If your a conscientious head teacher / teacher and want to start making moves to improving physical literacy in your classroom by including standing desk stations you can utilise your sports premium to access funds. 

Schools wishing to try before you buy can trial standing desks for students by visiting this short form and getting in touch.

 

Resources:

The National Child Measurement Programme 

To calculate your child’s BMI there are online apps and resources available such as this one.

Change4Life Website offers tips for parents hoping to get their whole family in shape and combat the obesity crisis.

NHS has advice for you if your child is overweight

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