The UK is facing a childhood obesity crisis like never before. A press release published by the NHS in November 2016 highlighted that there has been a significant increase in obesity rates among primary-aged children between 2019–2021.
Each year, The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) measures the height and weight of children in Reception class (aged 4 to 5) and year 6 (aged 10 to 11), to assess levels of children who are overweight and obese within primary schools. With a 4.5 percent rise in obesity levels among primary-aged children, the last few years marks the biggest increase since the NCMP began.
There are several factors which may be detrimental to children leading active, healthy lifestyles. Increased screen time from television, computers and mobile devices often leads to a decrease in physical activity in children; the combination of both results in poor mental and physical health.
A recent study in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health indicated that children who had higher levels of screen time and low levels of physical activity had worse mental health overall, whereas those who spent less time on electronic devices and took part in more physical activity were happier, more confident and better equipped to cope with stress.
Though there are many initiatives attempting to tackle the childhood obesity crisis in the UK, such as the NHS’s Better Health – Healthier Families campaign, there is still a long way to go to educate and encourage families and their children to get active and stay active.
Here’s some top tips to help children enjoy an active lifestyle and enjoy the mental and physical benefits that exercise brings:
1. Lead by example
The best way to motivate children to be physically active is by getting active yourself! This doesn’t mean having to have an expensive gym membership or running marathons. It could be simply choosing to walk to the shops instead of driving, making an effort to get outdoors and play, or incorporating activities into leisure time, such as swimming or cycling.
2. Make exercise fun
Sometimes the most enjoyable forms of exercise are the ones where you don’t realise you’re exercising because it’s just good fun! Try out some games which involve getting up and getting moving.
Our 7in1 Card Games have the option for a fun, active game called ‘Jump and Say’ – simply lay the cards out facedown in a line on the floor, then each player takes it in turns to jump along the line. Whichever card they land by, they pick up and turn over, saying what’s on the card and then keeping the card. This quick and simple to play game is great for toddlers and preschoolers alike, encouraging them to get active – perfect for a rainy day indoors!
3. Get gifts that encourage outdoor play
Non-electrical games and toys that get children outdoors are a good way to increase physical activity whilst having fun. Sports equipment like balls and hula hoops are ideal for playing in the garden or at the park. Blowing bubbles is also a relatively inexpensive item that can bring endless entertainment, getting children to run, chase, stomp and clap to pop the bubbles!
4. Make it a sociable occasion
Most children enjoy spending time with other children their own age, and a great way to boost physical activity is to do it with friends. Arrange a playdate at a local park, gardens or simply in your own back garden. With more people, you can play group games such as tag, football, catch, and playground classics like ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’ or ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’.
5. Limit TV and screen time
It’s all too easy to leave the TV on or hand the kids an iPad whilst you’re busy getting on with stuff in the house. Whilst in moderation this is fine (and sometimes essential for burnt out parents to have a brief respite!), try being more conscious of how long your kids are spending in front of screens during the day.
Set healthy boundaries for the amount of time they spend watching TV or using mobile devices, and when the allotted time is up, offer other activities instead. Colouring books, story CDs, listening and dancing to music are all good alternatives to reduce screen time for children and protect their health and wellbeing.
Getting children to spend less time staring at screens and more time being physically active doesn’t have to be difficult. Make exercise a family affair and something to feel positive about, rather than a chore or something unpleasant that everyone needs to endure.
By leading a more active lifestyle, your family will reap the benefits by improved physical and mental health, as well as potentially reducing household bills by spending less time indoors using electronic devices.
These are just a few ideas to help you incorporate more physical activity into family life. What activities do your children love doing? We’d love to hear from you! Carry on the conversation with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Article by - Melissa Brannlund
Follow me on Twitter @MelBrannlund or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Look out for Melissa's latest articles on Anita Frost's author website, where she'll talk about topics including business and publishing, author news and events, and giving back to communities. You can find her in-depth monthly feature on the News & Media page of the Green Bean Collection website, discussing children's books and reading, early years education, living a greener lifestyle and all things Green Bean!
Stay updated on the latest breaking news and top headlines from
From regular monthly features and blogs, to news about our brand and new product releases.
Find out more about our children’s books, toys, games, activities and edutainment media.
Melissa Brannlund is the features writer and editor, for Green Bean Studios.
Want to keep updated on all things Green Bean?
Stay tuned for announcements on our website about exciting competitions, giveaways and the latest news from Green Bean Studios.
You can find Melissa's monthly features on the News & Media page, discussing children's books, toys, and games,, reading, play, early years education, and enjoying a fun and greener lifestyle.
For more information or any PR queries, please contact Melissa by emailing
Children’s Toy Retailer of the Year 2021