Olympic medallist Sally Gunnell urges families to encourage children to get fit

By Suzi Muston in Education

Chingford children could be missing out on the best possible start in life because their parents don’t have the time, money or knowledge to help them lead a healthier lifestyle, according to a recent survey.

Almost two thirds of parents don’t think they know enough to educate their children about healthy living, while almost half blame lack of time and more than a quarter cite the cost of healthy food and gym facilities as a barrier.

The survey also found that despite just 11 per cent of children leading the healthiest lifestyle in their household, only half of parents will be encouraging their children to get fitter over the next 12 months.

Olympic gold medallist, and mother-of-three, Sally Gunnell OBE, said she was shocked by the figures and says local families need more support to get active if future generations are to stay fit and healthy.

She said: “These are truly worrying statistics. Parents lead very busy lives and I know from personal experience how hard it is to make sure the whole family stays fit and healthy, but we are facing a child obesity epidemic, so it’s vital that we do all we can to give our kids the best start in life.”

Ms Gunnell urged primary schools across the area to take a lead on family fitness by signing up to fitness organisation, Premier Sport’s health and well being initiative aimed at pupils, parents and teachers alike.

The program – thought to be the only one of its kind in the UK - gives parents the chance to attend fitness classes at their child’s school straight after dropping them off, or just before picking them up. Participating schools are given a 6-12 week program to educate pupils on the importance of active, healthy lifestyles – a key part of the national curriculum’s focus on well being. The program is also open to early years support and nurseries.

Ms Gunnell said: “Local headteachers have never had a better opportunity to lay the foundations for a fitter future. Premier Transition removes some of the key barriers we know parents struggle with when it comes to family fitness and I strongly urge schools across Chingford to get involved.

“Not only do the classes provide parents with low-cost access to fitness facilities at a time when they would to be heading to school anyway, they also give them tips and advice on nutrition so they can help their families get fitter and healthier too.”

Research from Premier Sport last year found that just 10 per cent of UK youngsters are doing physical activity every day at school, while only 25 per cent are managing an hour or more’s exercise a day.

The Children’s Inactivity study also found that 85 per cent of parents think their children would benefit from more education around fitness in school, while 60 per cent are worried about childhood obesity levels.

For information, visit www.premiertransition.co.uk/find-out-more

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