The Highland Council is working with NHS Highland to adopta range of measures to tackle childhood obesity.
Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Education Culture and Sport Committee, highlighted the initiatives in responding to the latest statistics published by the NHS which highlight that 23.9% of primary one children in the area are overweight with 8.9 % classed as 'obese'.
He said: “We are working in partnership to promote healthy weight in our communities through a whole range of interventions. This is evident in the Highland Healthy Weight Strategy, which the council is fully signed up to.
The Highland Council and NHS Highland takes an environmental view of the influences on weight which extend beyond individual responsibilities.
“Combating childhood obesity needs to be examined from many different angles including environmental measures, education about choices and parental responsibility particularly. Schools and education play a pivotal part in promoting healthy lifestyles in a complex world of unhealthier options such as highly sugary drinks and unhealthy energy laden snacks.
“All schools place a high emphasis on Health and Wellbeing particularly to promote healthy eating, opportunities to be active and explore the outdoors. All schools which are recognised as 'Health Promoting Schools' have remained vigilant with their Health and Wellbeing programmes.
“The Highland Council School Meals Service has seen a marked increase in the uptake of school meals in Highland especially in primary schools over the last 5 years. All school meals meet defined nutritional standards as set by the Scottish Government and are considered to be a very high quality healthy option for children and young people. The Highland Council took the bold step of ensuring that school meals met the nutritional legislation one year before it was introduced nationally.
“'Active Schools' is just one of a number of successful initiatives that The Highland Council delivers in its efforts to encourage more children to become more active more often, particularly targeting 'inactive children'. Specially trained Active Schools Co-ordinators provided 423,000 participant sessions last year from about 2,200 activity sessions that included up to 45 different activity types, involving about 150 sports clubs and 2,000 different volunteers.
“PE in Highland schools aims to improve aspects of fitness and develop a positive attitude to physical activity for life. It also enhances their physical wellbeing to be able to participate in a wide range of physical activity, dance, sport and outdoor learning. Primary School Teachers have been provided with the opportunity to become specialist deliverers of physical education with a Post Graduate qualification in Primary PE, the specialist courses have been running for three years in Highland.
“Highland Schools also encourage pupils and parents to look at the ways they travel to school by promoting active travel and safer routes to schools to enable pupils and parents to walk and cycle safely where they are able to do so.
“The Highland Council's award winning High Life scheme continues to be seen as a contributor to promote health and wellbeing particularly for families on a low income, High Life provides a reduced rate for access to leisure facilities and young people are provided with a free High Life Young Scot Card that gives them heavily discounted access to all Highland Council leisure facilities.”