Norfolk’s new focus on getting young people fit and healthy

A vision to drive down obesity and get young people active and healthy in Norfolk has been unveiled.

A vision to drive down obesity and get young people active and healthy in Norfolk has been unveiled. Credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire - Credit: PA

As obesity becomes a growing problem and time spent exercising dips, ROSA MCMAHON reports on a new strategy to tackle the trend.

Physical activity of young people in Norfolk graphic

A vision to drive down obesity and get young people active and healthy in Norfolk has been unveiled.

Organisations across the county have come together to create a three year strategy to tackle growing weight and fitness problems.

Inactivity is thought to cost the county £18m a year, with a third of youngsters aged 10 to 11 in Norfolk overweight and almost a fifth obese.

The 'Norfolk Sport, PE, Physical Activity and Development Strategy for Young People 2015-2017' is the first of its kind in the region and will be made public this morning.

It reads like a manual for schools, councils, colleges and more to incorporate fitness aims into everyday routines for people aged up to 25 as well as highlighting places to find the support.

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Chair of the committee overseeing the strategy, Richard Brown, 56, admitted the project is overdue and a reaction to figures around exercise and weight continuing to rise.

Despite it offering no tangible solutions to the problem, it has been produced to give clear guidance on what Norfolk should be doing to drive down or flat line the worrying figures.

Mr Brown said for parents, schools and students, the report is a chance to focus on how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

'We have no teeth or power to force people to do anything,' he said.

'This strategy is aspirational with a view to improving the wellbeing all the way through [the ages].

'This is the promotion of a healthy lifestyle – about people getting into habits which will last way beyond the age of 25.'

The strategy has been written against a backdrop of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games which promised a legacy of more people taking up new sports.

But a key part of the plan is to get everybody more active, not just would-be athletes.

Mr Brown explains: 'We wanted to link a lot of issues together. It's not just about more sport for sporty people but about physical activity for all youngsters.'

Among the aspirations set out in the strategy are that all young people up to the age of five do three hours of physical activity each day, all young people have access to high quality education and community sport and they are offered the opportunity to be leaders, coaches and officials of sports teams.

All of the actions will be reviewed up to 2017 and options for another strategy will be decided after the numbers have been crunched.

Only last month health chiefs pledged to make tackling obesity one of their top priorities after it emerged that almost two-thirds of adults in the region have a weight problem.

Figures show 65pc of people in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are classed as obese or overweight, costing the NHS £5bn because of an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers and can affect self-esteem and mental health.

The organisations consulted and part of the report are: Norfolk County Council Children's Services, County Hall's Public Health, Active Norfolk, nurseries, Norfolk's primary and secondary schools, UEA, further educations colleges in Norfolk, district councils and eight School Sports Partnerships, Norwich City Community Sport Foundation, Norfolk Integrated Education Advisory Service.

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This strategy is aspirational with a view to improving the wellbeing all the way through [the ages].

Richard Brown, chair of the committee overseeing the strategy.

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