What Interventions by Schools May Promote Better Health in Children?

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In this essay, I will look at the different interventions that schools can make to promote children’s health. Broadly speaking, interventions can be divided into three areas: diet, exercise and school-based health care. There is evidence that poor or insufficient diets can lead to malnutrition and affect children’s ability to concentrate. Over nutrition (excessive calories and diets high in sugar and fat) can lead to obesity and could contribute to behavioural problems (Finlay et al., 2010). Schools have an ideal opportunity to influence children’s diets. Breakfast clubs can help ensure that children eat a nutritious and filling meal at the start of the day. School meals can be made more appealing to children by being freshly prepared on the premises and served in a more conducive environment. Schools can teach the importance of healthy eating through PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) and stimulate children’s interest in and provide access to different foods in cooking classes. There is a suggestion that combined with a poor diet; a lack of physical activity can lead to obesity. Schools can encourage physical activity by scheduling regular PE classes. Pupils can be encouraged to do sport in their free time by organising sports clubs, and schools can attempt to make exercise ‘fun’ by providing it in the form of dance classes, for example. There are also a number of initiatives, such as WOW (Walking Once a Week) and Ride-it, which encourage children to walk or cycle to school by providing supervision and safe routes. Schools can provide an effective setting for medical interventions and health education, including sexual health. This removes the requirement for children to attend a separate clinics or health centres. In this way, immunisations and vaccination programmes can be implemented through schools, as well as contraception advice.

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