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Suffolk school pedaling away from obesity

The BBC has reportedthat a Suffolk county school has brought in pedal machines to try and tackle the rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes in children. The machines go under the desks or sit in front of the children when they are reading. While the use of the machines isn’t compulsory, head teacher, Heather Madsen, said that the children have welcomed them.

It was initially a novelty and like the Tour de France here, but since then they’ve calmed down and some are doing it out of habit,” she said. “We were talking about initiatives that would stimulate the children’s concentration and ensure they could still stay focused on lessons.”

The number of revolutions per minute, as well as calorie consumption, can be seen on a display – and the school claims that some children have burned up to 800 calories in a day.

The initiative is particularly important today, on World Obesity Day. Chris Wright, Head of Health and Well-being at Youth Sport Trust, said: “World Obesity Day is undoubtedly a time for action, but also a time to reflect on a journey that has resulted in a tenfold increase in the number of obese and overweight children and teens over the last 40 years, according to the World Health Organization.

Wright added: “While healthier diets are part of the solution, it is vital that we find ways to get children more active. We want children to be active not just in physical education and sports, but during lunch hours, through after-school activities and with a timetable tailored for an active school day. We all need to move more.

Dr Dane Vishnubala, Active IQ chief medical advisor, sees initiatives such as this as a great stepping stone for a change in the zeitgeist.

He says: “This intervention is great for encouraging physical activity, changing the culture around it, and making the children aware of its importance. It would be interesting to evaluate their outcomes from introducing the pedal machines and see whether it has made a difference. We know that, on the whole, physically active children perform better academically, too.

I imagine that while this is important for changing culture and promoting activity, children will need to do physical activity of a much higher intensity than can be fulfilled on a pedal machine (while doing school work) to achieve physical activity’s full health benefits.”

So while the pedal machines won’t be the sole source of children’s necessary activity, it’s a great step in the right direction for getting the ball rolling, as well as changing perceptions and attitudes around movement.

This year’s World Obesity Day is focusing on ending weight based stigma. We looked at body-shaming earlier this year, and pointed out 7 ways that personal trainers can support clients without body-shaming.

For more information on weight based stigma and the 2018 campaign, visit:



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