Thursday 13 March 2014 Written by: Adam

Five schools are taking part this half-term before we move to Gateshead in the April-May term.

Morpeth Road Primary, St Wifred’s Primary, Croftway Primary and St Bedes Academy are all part of the programme running for five weeks in schools. Premiership Rugby’s Something to Chew On Programme in association with The Supporters Club, BT Sport’s charity initiative, is an interactive project aimed at teaching seven to eight-year-olds about their own health and wellbeing with a rugby focus.

According to government figures over a fifth of four to five year-olds, one third of children aged 10 to 11-years-old and two thirds of adults are currently overweight or obese. Obesity tends to track into adulthood, so obese children are more likely to become obese adults. The government’s national ambition to combat childhood obesity is a sustained downward trend in the level of excess weight in children by 2020.

Rugby as a game for all shapes and sizes makes it the perfect vehicle to drive a health and activity led initiative; as a sport rugby can offer playing opportunities and role models to children of all shapes and sizes.

The interactive programme takes a rounded approach to teaching children about leading a healthy lifestyle.

The key aims of the project are to:
• Improve children’s understanding of what constitutes healthy eating and a healthy diet
• Increase children’s knowledge of food safety.
• Increase children’s uptake of physical activity.
• Raise awareness of the food competences amongst teachers.
• Support the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines that all children and should engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least an hour a day.

Wayne Morris, community and corporate responsibility director at Premiership Rugby said: “Today, three in ten boys and girls aged two to 15 are classed as either overweight or obese [1]. If this trend continues, by 2025 47% of men and 36% of women could be obese. This future burden of ill health and obesity will be borne both by the individual and more broadly by the state healthcare system.
“Tackling obesity today is therefore high on both the government’s and media’s agenda. Delivering change that ensures all British children live healthy and active lifestyles requires an approach which can pass on information and inspiration to eat more healthily; tackles inactivity by promoting fundamentals of movement; and teams up with children, teachers, parents and professional sport to make changes in the long term. Premiership Rugby’s Something to Chew On Programme does just that and we are very excited to partner with The Supporters Club to deliver this programme. We are also grateful for the technical and advisory support of Public Health England.”
John Petter, BT Consumer chief executive said: “BT Sport is committed to using the power of sport to change lives through our new charitable initiative, The Supporters Club. Thanks to our customer donations, we are pleased to be joining forces with Premiership Rugby to launch a new programme called Something to Chew On, to help children and their families in making the right decisions about health, exercise and food.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing for Public Health England said: “Learning how to choose, cook and eat safe, healthy food from a young age is an invaluable skill. By ensuring youngsters develop these important life skills and good habits early, we hope this will have a positive and lasting impact which they will take with them into their adult lives. We know that reaching children and young people with messages about nutrition and healthy eating is a tough task. This is why Public Health England is delighted to be involved in the Something to Chew On Programme with Premiership Rugby, which offers an exciting and creative way of reaching this age group. With this project, not only do the children get to learn about nutrition, but they are also taught the importance of being active as part of a healthy lifestyle. We have no doubts that young people taking part in ‘Something to Chew On’ will find learning these skills both fun and interesting.”