The goal of turning obesity around cannot be achieved without engendering an understanding of what constitutes healthy living amongst children and young people, who can then take the good habits learned while growing up into adulthood.
This principal made it imperative that National Obesity Awareness Week engaged with young people and provided them with an opportunity to think and talk about what they eat and drink, and how important it is for them to be physically active. The way to do this was to run a competition, in which the National Obesity Forum (as the organisation behind National Obesity Awareness Week) partnered with the Walt Disney Company UK.
The premise of the competition was straightforward. There were three age group: infant (year 2 and under), juniors (years 3 to 6) and secondary school pupils (years 7 to 13). Infants and juniors were asked to create a picture of a healthy meal. Secondary school pupils were asked to create a healthy recipe. The winners would receive funding for the development of an outdoor area at their school, runners-up would win their school funding for sports equipment.
The level of interest was staggering. There were thousands of high quality entries and creating a shortlist for an expert judging panel was a demanding job in itself. But as importantly, many of the entries were accompanied by letters from teachers and parents, not extolling the virtues of their children’s entries but talking about how the competition had been fun for the children and an opportunity to promote the concepts of healthy living to them.
These sentiments encapsulated the goals of National Obesity Awareness Week – namely providing children with an opportunity to learn about nutrition, diet and physical activity, and doing so in a positive way to reinforce its fundamental importance.