Healthy eating and exercise programmes in schools are less likely to reverse childhood obesity than the influence of family and the food industry.
This is the finding of researchers at the University of Birmingham, whose study in the British Medical Journal shows that there were no improvements in children’s diet or activity levels after taking part in a 12-month anti-obesity programme. The study monitored the impact of the scheme on 600 pupils in 26 primary schools in the West Midlands and saw pupils take part in 30 minutes of additional exercise, a six-week healthy eating and exercise programme with Aston Villa Football Club and healthy cooking workshops for families. But there were no significant reductions in BMI.
However, the report concluded that families, communities and the food industry could have more of an influence on childhood obesity rates through schemes such as the sugar tax and that schools were only “one layer” in the fight against childhood obesity.
“Schools have an important part to play but other factors are involved too – families, the media and the food industry all need to be considered,” said Dr Emma Lancashire, who co-ordinated the trial.