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Child obesity report welcomed

Health professionals have welcomed a report that recommends annual fitness tests for schoolchildren amid growing concerns over child obesity.

In the report, the government's Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson said he wants pupils to undergo "bleep tests" - similar to schemes already running in the US - to help increase fitness levels.

The government hopes such tests would reduce the risk of illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes, keep weight in check and improve mental health.

Dr David Vickers, registrar at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "We strongly welcome this report. We continue to be extremely concerned about child obesity as it damages children's physical and mental health and the harmful effects continue in to adulthood."

Parents would be sent letters detailing their child's fitness with the aim of getting families involved in improving health.

Around the world, physical fitness among children is declining by 4.3% per decade. In England, the rate of decline is 7% to 9%, regardless of obesity levels.

Janet Davies, Executive Director of Nursing and Service Delivery at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: "School nurses can offer expert advice to children as soon as they start school to help and encourage healthy habits into adulthood.

"We are, however, aware that there is a serious shortfall in school nursing provision, and many pupils cannot access this advice. This must be tackled to prevent future generations from suffering unnecessarily from something as inactivity."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Schools should provide more sports for all ability kids on a daily basis. School playing fields have been sold off. More outdoor play areas should be provided for football etc. Healthy food should be more readily available and cheaper rather than all the bargain cheap biscuits etc. How much money will it cost testing kids and sending out letters rather than employing more sport teachers. Personally, I think it is yet another
political stunt" - K Kerry, Practice Nurse