Calls for lifestyle changes to tackle childhood obesity

LIFESTYLE changes are needed to tackle the high number of children who are overweight or obese, the Guernsey Velo Club president has said.

LIFESTYLE changes are needed to tackle the high number of children who are overweight or obese, the Guernsey Velo Club president has said.

Gary Wallbridge, pictured, has also suggested that more funding towards sport development would help to reduce the problem.

A Health and Social Services measurement survey has revealed that a third of Year 5 children are overweight or obese.

The figure did not surprise Mr Wallbridge or the Guernsey Sports Commission, which works alongside the weight management school nurse and the community dietician in delivering a course aimed at seven- to 11-year-olds with weight concerns, and their families.

Mr Wallbridge said children were no longer as active as they used to be due to lifestyle changes. ‘We have around 160 youngsters with us and we get those that want to come along and be active,’ he said.

‘If you go around the schools you see a segment of children that are not taking enough exercise or are living the wrong lifestyle. Children used to play in the garden a lot more – they were outdoors on their feet or on a bike. Now, they go home and flop into an armchair rather than play outside.’

Comments for: "Calls for lifestyle changes to tackle childhood obesity"

Island Wide Voting

I just wonder if in a few years time some eminent 'expert' will conclude that the charts currently in use are all to cock

How many times do we get told one week that eating XYZ is bad for you only for some other git in a white coat and bow tie to tell us that it is actually good for you?

guern abroad

If you need someone in a white coat to tell you it is good for you it will most likely be making someone else money.

If it is whole food and plant centric stuffed with vetgetables and fruit and not ready processed then you are laughing all the way to good health and not lining other peoples pockets with your money and health.


And how do you know that? Have you conducted tests on this yourself to determine its factual accuracy? Or is this just another thing that the "white coats" have told you?

It seems strange that you shun those who take the advice of scientists...unless it's you. If you believe it, it's fact. If you don't, it's propaganda fabricated to make someone else money.

Are you a religious person perchance?


Bit harsh?

I think what he was saying is that its not rocket science in establishing which foods are good to eat?


when I was growing up, there were children and adults of all sizes and ALL schools had PE on the curriculum. whilst I have enormous respect for Gary's suggestion, but, child obesity is a very very complex layer of issues and not a 'one hat fits all' problem. I personally consider the discrimination in our society towards those who do have an 'alleged' weight problem is an infringement on their human rights - that's if such laws apply in our Bailiwick. The child/adult becomes the victim of the most appalling bullying and discrimination in school and the work place, which is totally counter productive. Like any social issue it needs to start with education at a very early age. Drawing in health, mental health, the food/drinks industry, schools, parents and of course lets not forget the child/adult. Just because a person is deemed overweight it doesn't mean they are the enemy in society with the health fanatics and extremist's attacking them. Lets flip the eating disorder coin on its head and not forget the very high level male and female of youngsters and adults in the bailiwick who are suffering from bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Could it not be alleged the same social ills contribute towards these eating disorders. The myth ranted out by the health fanatics and their disciples is overweight people cost us millions to address. At some stage we all abuse our bodies with food. the trash fanatically pumped into our bodies over a 3 day festive period of gorging is shocking. addressing eating disorders is complex. persecuting a section of our community because of their weight should be a criminal matter.


A criminal matter? What tosh!

Where would you want the line drawn? What is "persecution" Is it persecution to state that a fat person is fat? Is it persectution to say a brunette is a brunette? I am 5ft 9 at a push.... call me short? Short-ar*e? How sensitive am I allowed to be?

Is it persecution to say to a fat person, you've got to lose weight or you'll more likely leave loved ones earlier, or you'll more likely cost the taxpayer in healthcare.

Or is it simply stating the obvious and staring facts in the face that we're all afraid of doing and not wanting to offend anyone?.....

Election Issues

Why have the Education Department taken it upon themselves to close school swimming pools in the name of savings then?

Money comes before any thing else. FTP savings again?

Learning to swim is very important on this island which surrounded by sea. Swimming is also one of the best forms of exercise that most people can enjoy.


Because the States have always wasted money. Its the way they are. Some Deputy's I believe truly do their best, whilst others ride on the coat tails for their own interests, those are the ones we need to get out asap.


Agree with Election Issues

Swimming, as a non-weight bearing activity, is a great exercise for all sizes and all ages. A lot of adults (and children) become fatter when they get an injury and stay that way; swimming may be the only sport they can do. If they can't swim to start off with then this will make things extremely difficult.

At the very least, why not hand over management of the learn to swim pools to the primary schools themselves? Education can submit their recommendation of minimum pool opening periods and individual schools can access whether they want to open it for a greater period which can be self financed through private enterprise (private lessons out of school hours) or the purchasing of solar panels etc to bring down the heating bill? Or various other methods which they can think of that Education does not have the time for.



One thing is for sure. Inactive lifestyles for kids certainly isn't good. Fresh air and exercise are essential and over the past 10-20 years the UK's state schools, copied as ever by Guernsey's, have drastically cut back compulsory PE and competitive sport. Teachers can't be bothered to do any sport which run after school hours, and so it is left to sports bodies to do the schools' duty for them.

Not surprisingly, obesity and general lack of fitness is rife. Hardly a surprise.

There definitely needs to be more resources pumped into school sports. If the schools don't want to do it, then a partnership with the local sports bodies who already employ coaches and development officers is the answer. And yes - it will cost some more money, albeit less than hirng full-time dedicated PE teachers.


You could not have put it any better.

Time to invest in school sport and PE before it is too late.

Teachers have very little interest in the subject and Education do nothing to support them.

Invest NOW!


I agree with both of you but have one point- if people want to encourage kids to enjoy sports why not let schools/classes vote on what sports they do (within reason or from a shortlist picked by the school?) There will obviously be logistical/teething issues with that but it will get much more enthusiasm from kids.

Too many of our PE lessons seemed to lack any common sense, for example splitting the year group in two for an hour long lesson. Half did rounders, half swam, then swapped after half an hour. By the time you change into bathers, swim, change into kit, play, change back into wet bathers, shower and get back into uniform you end up with about ten minutes max doing either activity!

It would have been far more sensible and enjoyable to swim one week and play the next but no dice.


The easiest and most time efficient way to increase levels of activity is to (whenever possible) use a journey already being made into one that also provides exercise. It should be up to the government to ensure that the islands infrastructure is set up to encourage us all to do that, including children.

There are lots of factors that contribute to making us fatter and they could all do with being addressed, but without doubt lack of activity is a major one and does need dealing with.

Our activity levels have decreased at the same rate as our car use has increased. We might all 'like' using our cars all the time, but clearly its not doing us much good in the long run.

R. Williams

I sometimes wonder whether it is totally due to lack of exercise. Maybe it's lifestyle that needs looking at.

Since my wife retired, we have been having our main meal at about 2pm. and without otherwise altering our lifestyle, I have lost 17lbs. in the last 12 months without trying or dieting. (I am fit and well and have not suffered any illness which would account for the weight loss).

In the evening we only have a small snack, if anything. I would stress that we do not eat processed foods and rarely sweet snacks. Not having an overfull stomach, we also sleep much better.


Its not just about the weight. Its also about general fitness. How many kids walk or cycle to school? How often do they ever break sweat? Could they even walk 2 or 3 miles? Have they ever tried?


GM. You are right. Sadly there are not many kids walking or cycling to school anymore and a main reason for that is because parents perceive the roads as being too busy with traffic. If we want our children (and adults come to that) to be able to use a journey (whenever possible) as an opportunity to increase activity levels, then we have to figure out how to reduce traffic volumes significantly. Sadly, the mere mention of perhaps using other ways of getting around (sometimes!) other than the car is met by some with howls of despair and what in some cases seems almost tantrum like.


Perhaps the cycling proficiency test which i believe all primary schools offer in year 5(?) could be conducted earlier, say, at age 7 (years3/4) to encourage more children to cycle to school?



The proficiency test as it stands doesn't even take children onto the roads…they do it all in the playground so that needs to be up-dated. I think it only takes kids up to level 1 when ideally it would go up to level 3.

However, until our roads are a lot less busy, I strongly suspect that there will still be many parents who will not allow their children (or themselves) to cycle with current volumes of traffic. So whatever way we look at it, that does need dealing with.


A good start would be a total ban on the yummy mummies taking their over fed under exercised pampered little darlings within a kilometer distance of any school.


well it is obviously a complex issue, therefore information is required, ie mandatory free yearly blood tests...


The publication of this report links to a few other topical issues on TIG - parking in town; new school builds; and various cycling articles, to name a few.

Although we have an obesity strategy in Guernsey, it is focused within HSSD, and the bulk of its money goes into the school measurement programme. Measuring is a good start, but it won't on its own affect the problem.

As others have said, the causes of obesity are complex, but there are some evidence-based things we could do that would help. Creating environments so that activity is easy and normal would be a start, as would the other side of the coin (for example making car use less appealing).

This is where the strategy isn't very joined up. Despite the obesity strategy stating that walking or cycling are the preferred routes into work and school, the Beaucamps school new build (and the St Sampson's one before it) have extensive car and moped parking. Moped parking for children, that is. The grammar school has a timetable which leaves no real time for students to eat a proper lunch together - pass by the site and you'll see them wandering around eating junk food out of plastic packets. The 'cycle route' into St Sampson's school is a just a line drawn on the pavement (and I've seen drivers shouting at cyclists correctly using the road in the other direction telling them to get off it), and the poor layout of the seafront scheme indirectly led to the death of someone on a bike earlier this year.

There's just a few issues that connect into the obesity story, illustrating how complex the problem will be to tackle. And notice I haven't even mentioned the other side of the equation - food intake.


Good post James. To tackle obesity will require all the departments working together to achieve the desired outcome of a fitter, healthier community. Fitness does not have to be achieved as an extra add-on to what are already very busy lives. A large part of fitness can be achieved just by the way we live and move around and making it 'normal' to walk or cycle whenever possible.

Island Wide Voting

Yes,a good post James

Rosie I've printed and cut out your post and will use it to bolster my New Year resolution.In the meantime I'll keep the cutting safe in one of my belly folds :)



ah! so that's your secret hiding place. I have heard it's a good one for losing the telly remote control in! ;-)

Happy Christmas.


Agree. One of the main problems with the issues you highlight is the government taking so achingly long to come up with a transport strategy because they can't agree on a policy it seems. It will likely be ready at the next election and then the next people in charge will want to put a fresh stamp on it. It's not even one step forward for Guernsey, right now it's no steps.. what a legacy. So many times I've read '..when the transport strategy is ready..'

Devil's Advocate

It's a societal problem - invariably both parents work these days, and both will own cars. Kids subsequently get given ipads/consoles/telly to keep them occupied as their parents cannot give them the attention they deserve. Those parents sending their kids to various sports clubs are spending all their time ferrying the kids to and from the clubs. Subsequently we're breeding a generation of kids that only know how to sit and look at a screen. 13 year old kids that have only ridden the bike they got for passing their 11+ ONCE. Most kids have never been soaked to the skin because they only ever walk 5 yards from their front door to the car, and 20 yards from the car to wherever they're going.


Could not agree more with you Devil's Advocate... We are breeding a bunch of square eyed softies, who's parents bow to their every whim.


This is frankly insane! DA is fairly close - it is societal, but because parents aren't responsible enough.

My kids have tablet devices and love playing their games... but time is strictly limited. They do sports and they take part in the arts.

The causes of obesity are not complex. If calories in exceeds calories out, you'll get fat. Reverse that trend and you'll lose weight.

What drives people to increase their intake, however IS complex, this is true.

And lastly, let it never be said that there is nothing to do on this island. Guernsey Sports Commission has details of 49 sports, and there are many others.

The Guernsey Arts Commission has details of all sorts of music, drama, art clubs.

There are scouts groups, cadet groups, endless youth clubs run by various societies and churches.

And that's before you think about the natural beauty of the island and the activities that it affords us lucky residents.

If we can find the motivation, anyone can be more active. There is no excuse for any of us.


Oh i dont know BTF paid parking will solve most of this according to some :-)

Matt Fallaize

Hear hear.


@Billy the fish

Could not agree with you more! !

I run/cycle to work, my wife runs and my two kids are very sport orientated.

As you say, there are many opportunities out there for all and they are easily accessible.

You have highlighted a great deal of services offered to Guernsey and these should be supported.the more you support, the more you benefit.

There is no doubt however, that mind set is the determining factor. While there are a host of opportunities out there, it comes down to self determination

There has always been support for stopping the dreaded smoking. I used to smoke and no matter how much i was advised or told, it was down to my own initiative. Best thing i did, but it has to come from you. Same with taking up exercise.

From experience, it is about well being and encouragement. There are many opportunities out there that should be drawn upon. There are so many unassuming professionals ready to provide what you need.

schools deliver a comprehensive sports curriculum, it is up to the adults to turn this around. Parents should encourage at every opportunity. There is no excuse because it is out there for the rich and the poor alike.



You say: "Schools deliver a sports curriculum".

I would seriously challenge that comment. It now seems to be far too easy for pupils to opt out of sport or PE. I think schools do pretty much the bare minimum these days when delivering sport in schools.

Organised competitive sport has been attacked by those who think its wrong for children to compete in case they might lose and suffer some form of mental breakdown as a consequence.

Teachers don't want to be running school teams or training sessions after 3.30pm. Many schools either don't employ a specialist PE teachers or don't have enough volunteer teachers to run school teams in addition to their normal teaching duties.

Taking school teams to away games is a Child Protection nightmare due to the ridiculous bureaucracy of the nanny state.

Health and Safety terrifies teachers and the Education Department. "A broken ankle playing football? We can't risk that - we will get sued". Rugby injuries? Hockey or cricket with a hard ball? It's far too easy for teachers and the Education Department to give sport a wide berth.

Time for a big rethink.


Never blame the Govt or Schools always go for the parents and if you cannot find them the children.

We have a sheet school system based on the UK model of overcrowding and unnecessary academia. Why not make sport the priority every afternoon and include nutrition / drugs etc within science.

But no lets blame the thickos on the estate its easier.


Why not make sport a priority and put nutrition in science?

Because a) there's no evidence that information giving programmes affect obesity, and b) there's little evidence that programmes of organized or compulsory sport would have an effect on societal obesity levels.

Sport or organized exercise has little effect on obesity because (put simply) it burns up so few calories each week. Run 3 1/2 marathons a year? That's the equivalent to a daily 5 minute walk to school and back, or 1 1/2 cans of coke a week. An hour of punishing exercise on a rowing machine by a trained athlete burns up less than 1000 kcal - that's the same as a large latte and a piece of carrot cake.

You're much better sneaking exercise into daily life than imposing it in organized sport, which only appeals to a few. Move the car parks a bit further away. Ban travelling to school by moped. Make lifts slower. Spread buildings and lessons apart. Don't let parents park within 500m of a school. Pedestrianize areas. Restrict free parking. All those other ideas that get kicked into the political long grass, in favour of a quick poster campaign, a vain hope that we'll be inspired by Olympic athletes, and a website telling us to eat 5 a day, which we know already.

Sarnia expat

Educate parents immediately who allow their children unfettered access to soft drinks, biscuits, crisps and sweets. You know who you are! The type who are happy to whinge about their appalling benefits, yet are happy to sit around all day smoking, yet completely incapable of preparing a "scratch" meal for their children. Jeremy Kyle would have a field day over here. Also educate the educators, who, when one child was doing cookery at school was excited to be preparing lemon meringue pie. Unfortunately first item on the shopping list was "lemon meringue pie mix" I kid you not.

As for blaming the government for our childrens bad lifestyles, start taking responsibility fir your own offspring.

As adults we seem increasingly incapable of making our own decisions in our childrens lives for whatever reason, and its about time we took control again, and start bringing our children up, rather than them making all the choices,


How about actually teaching good nutrition and home cooking in schools? What was passing as 'Food Technology' aka cooking class when I left LMDC in 2004 taught us to bake a couple of variants of pizza and cupcakes and wasted the rest of the time focused on designing fancy packaging.It seemed even at the time to us that learning a new, simple, wholesome or practical dish every lesson would be far more useful than spending six weeks on a mini project, only one week's lesson of which was spent cooking. That schools insist on pupils providing their own ingredients doesn't really help a lot of busy and/or financially challenged parents. I wonder how many local youngsters only learn to cook when they go away to uni or move away from home? Even if the parents do not know how to cook, for whatever reason, there is nothing to stop us educating the children. If health and safety will permit of course.


Both children and adults are hardwired to consume sweet and fatty foods in order to survive the famines our ancestors experienced in the past. In this land of plenty in which we live, the only thing that can save the kids is education and self control. Unfortunately, instant gratification and minimal effort in all aspects of life is the name of the game these days, so I fear that the fat lazy kids of today will become the fat lazy adults of tommorow, and will suffer a shortened and poorer quality life as a result.


Meanwhile adding to the stress and strain of the rest of us who have been self disciplined throughout our lives.

Remember this,the next time you fall down a flight of steps and the paramedics are unable to move you without the use of a crane!