Schools should be rated on pupils’ fitness are, according to the head of the NHS in England

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has suggested that school inspectors should examine the physical fitness of pupils alongside how well they do academically.

Mr Stevens said Ofsted, the schools inspection body, should pay “clear attention” to children’s general activity levels.

He also said that exercise alone was not enough to prevent the nation’s obesity epidemic. Speaking at the UKActive conference in London this week, he commented:

“Ofsted should pay clear attention to the fitness levels of our primary and secondary school children in the same ways that they do to maths and English attainment.

“One in 10 of our children when they start primary school are obese, not overweight but obese. By the time they leave primary school that becomes one in five. So something is going terribly wrong with the environment in which our children are being brought up. And we are storing all kinds of trouble down the line for them and their generation.”

Mr Stevens also announced proposals to ban sugary drinks from hospitals in England. The new proposals are meant to target the rising number of overweight NHS staff.

He said that the NHS “had not been a model employer” in looking after the health and fitness of its 1.3 million staff – of whom  over 50 percent are estimated to be overweight or obese.

The new NHS England consultation proposes either banning sugar sweetened beverages – including cans of pop and other drinks such as fruit juice with added sugar, and sweetened milk – or forcing vendors to pay a premium to sell such drinks on NHS premises.

The proposals, which would be introduced next year, would be in addition to the Government’s plans to introduce a new tax on the soft drinks industry.

Returning to the topic of children in schools, Mr Stevens added:

“The average five-year-old is estimated to be consuming their own bodyweight in sugar each year. And we are now spending more as a country on obesity-related healthcare costs and complications than we are spending on the police and fire service put together. So we have got a huge issue here.”

Commenting on other solutions to childhood obesity he said:

“As we look at the rising challenge of obesity we need to all be frank that improved activity rates by themselves are not going to be sufficient. Exercise alone won’t solve the obesity crisis, that has got to be matched by changes in our food and drink.”