Play & Child Obesity – How School Playgrounds help prevent Child Obesity

According to research, about 10% of all children are obese in England. The NHS is showing great concern for this issue because children as young as 4 years old are becoming overweight. 

This is due to several things, but bad eating habits and the availability of unhealthy food products play a key part. Other factors such as TV and video games also share some blame for the decrease in children’s activity. Schools in the UK have taken initiative and provide healthy school meals to the children during lunch breaks, but we should also be focusing on the important role of playground activities.

Child Obesity and how to tackle it through Play

Obesity in children can be controlled if plenty of physical activities can be incorporated in their daily lifestyle, especially without them thinking of it as some sort of a burden. So the only options for them are playgrounds and parks.

Playgrounds engage them in physical activities like nothing else. Playing motion- sensing video games such as Wii or Xbox 360 doesn’t count as physical activity because they are limited in motions and can be inaccurate in detecting proper activity in children.

Plus, children need fresh air as well. Playgrounds boost creativity among children and help them to develop motor skills and other cognitive abilities. Plus, children need fresh air as well.

So how do School Playgrounds help?

Playgrounds have a crucial role in helping kids lose weight because there are multiple options to choose from and they never get bored. They can spend as much as 3 hours in a playground and not get bored, especially if they have their peers and friends to join them.

Even play areas in a community centre can do wonders for them. Setting aside some time daily to take children to the local playground will help them stay fit and healthy. Likewise, schools should ensure that they are equipped with a good playground and ideally a sports area. It’s scientifically proven that children lose weight quicker if they exercise and are involved in some kind of physical activity.

Playgrounds give a wholesome feeling to children because they can let themselves loose and can just be themselves by jumping, climbing and hopping about. Playgrounds help children create social skills as well by mingling with the other kids there. So basically, they cover the physical, mental and social aspects of a child’s life. They help in creating great memories for them and they never get tired of coming back.

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Characteristics of a Playground that tackles Child Obesity

Maximize Motion

A good playground should be able to make kids do all the physical activities which create motion and develop their motor skills. They should be able to run, hop, jump, swing, climb, throw, toss etc. Basically, a child should be able to move in every way possible.

All playground equipment must be of good quality pertaining to industry standards to ensure the safety of the children. There shouldn’t be any loose parts. Parents should always make sure their children are using safe equipment.

Visually Appealing

Playgrounds are designed to be attractive to children. The equipment is always vividly coloured with bright pigments that make children think that they are in a special place. It should create an immense element of interest in the children so that their imagination is ignited.

Include Nature

Playgrounds are mostly built in an environment with green and natural surroundings. Ideally they should also include elements such as water and sand to have a balanced experience of the natural world.

Overhead Play Equipment

Play equipment which makes the children use their upper body, like ladders, mono-rails, monkey bars etc, is essential.

Easily Accessed

A good playground must be easily accessible, with having plenty of space and facilities for wheelchair users.

Suitable Play Surfacing

A playground should always have a suitable play surface as this will mean fewer accidents and injuries. If a play area is safe and attractive, it encourages children to use it, which of course helps combat Child Obesity. It’s normal for children to scrape their knees or elbows here or there during playtime, but if the ground surface is dirt, asphalt, or concrete those injuries and falls will can be a lot more painful.

In Summary

A playground with these key features, and given the time and opportunity to use it, is the best preventative to Child Obesity. Since children don’t know any better for themselves, it’s the responsibility of parents and schools to ensure that they are getting quality and sufficient playtime.

If you are a school looking for a playground that incorporates all the above features, then check out our projects for some inspiration.

Create a Play Space