29/03/17 – The Role of Activity in Combatting Child Obesity

Speakers: Chris Wright, Head of Wellbeing, Youth Sports Trust; John Herriman, CEO, Greenhouse Sports; Dr Mike Loosemore, the Institute of Sport UCL

29th March 2017 – meeting notes

All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood

Welcome and Introductions by Baroness Benjamin’s Husband in her absence. Speakers asked to address the specific question of ‘The role of activity in combatting childhood obesity’

Chris Wright, Youth Sport Trust

We need more investment into PE sport and Physical Activity.


  • Money – needs more accountability
  • Need to diversify provision
  • No strategy. Too focussed on ‘primary’
  • Needs an evidenced based approach. Evidence physical activity with health outcomes
  • Identify barriers to accessing activity and influence what goes on ‘beyond the school gates’
  • Start addressing the SEN & gender gap
  • More links needed between home and school. Parents need to role-model a non-sedentary life.

John Herriman, CEO, Greenhouse Sports


  • Discussed the need to put sports coaches and mentors in secondary schools
  • A quarter of all London pupils obese
  • Lazy summers undo weight loss in term time
  • NCMP data shows deprivation links to obesity
  • Sport still a Cinderella subject
  • LA budget cuts

What’s being done?

  • Sports England strategy
  • Targeting areas of disadvantage
  • More facilities and wider range of provision. For example, ‘Fit and Fed’ programmes
  • Making sport fun
  • Whole Child approach and the need for ‘joined up thinking’ across government departments.

Dr Mike Loosemore, the Institute of Sport UCL


  • There is a huge increase in sedentary behaviour and huge decrease in physical activity. This causes enzymes – physical and chemical impact on our bodies.
  • Only 20% children play organised sport. Sport is NOT the problem – it is the other children who don’t play sport.
  • Putting money into sport will not cure the obesity issue.
  • Sedentary behaviours activated in childhood go onto adulthood.
  • Ethnicity and low socio-economic factors
  • Small behaviour change interventions have a big impact


Neil Coleman. Come and see what we have done. Why are we still talking about this?

Response: we can demonstrate success in some schools but it is not systematic or connected across all schools and the evidence base is missing.

Charlotte Davis. Why do we not have developmentally appropriate goals to check progress?

Response: We don’t know. Australian research focuses on core movement skills. Teachers have insufficient skills / training in PE skills. John gave the example of a child who couldn’t jump.

James Gardener. Highlighted sport is not the answer. When do we stop using the word sport? The problem is terminology.

Responses: We need more coaching, put physical activity, not sport, into the natural school day. Not a ‘coach led’ sport. The correct coaching approach is important. Let children lead exercise, get kids moving.

Giles Platt. Should schools get double pupil premium if they don’t use physical activity budget correctly. Many schools use PP to offset budget cuts. Should DfE continue to rely upon outsourcing performance reviews who allow schools to self-review as opposed to on-site inspection?’

Response: currently no Dept Education accountability or monitoring

Phil Veasey. We need to look at the community. Can we create a ‘model’ active community pilot to demonstrate what can be done?

Response: Interesting idea. We need to coordinate a lot of good practice that is being done.

Richard Neal. Can we influence on every primary school having a trained PE lead?

Response: This needs investment.

Helen Crighton. Is there any money for clothing for sport? Especially for girls? Some children feel excluded from sport due to poverty.

Response: Dr Loosemore, Obesity is a complex issue. It’s about the children who don’t do sport. It starts ‘before’ needing a kit or joining a club. We need children to change behaviour in the early years.

Mel Healey. What do you mean by a ‘trained’ PE lead? Do you mean core strength or sports scientist.

Response: we need a holistic approach

Estelle McKay. Do you have an opinion on energy drinks which have increased consumption by 630% in 2015 in Canada. There is also a sponsorship issue.

Responses: The problem is that energy drinks are marketed as performance enhancers. We are missing an opportunity to educate. The Sugar Tax is a missed opportunity. Energy drinks are useful in elite sports but otherwise causes obesity and rotten teeth.

Paul Aagaard. What is the role of the mid day supervisor – washing tables or engaging with the children outside?

Chair. Does technology have a role?

Responses: sports and fitness technology is geared around kids who are already active

Amanda Gummer. Children lose exercise time and playtime by using tablets

Dr Samantha Rogers. We need to focus on family and parents in helping children to be less active in the holidays.


Obesity is very complicated. Start early with those that are not moving to change their behaviour

It’s not due to a lack of money, but connectivity

Acknowledge it’s a huge challenge and we need a ‘joined up’ governmental approach