Location and general information
Despite a host of different activities delivered at European level in order to combat rising levels of obesity, the proportion of the population who are overweight or obese remains worryingly high. The World Health Organization says that there is a critical need for change in this area, particularly for children between the ages of 5 and 17. The main reason for this is the unhealthy dietary habits of the general European population. Children in Europe lack balance in their diets and consume excessive amounts of saturated fats, trans fats, sugar and salt (caused by rising consumption of highly processed, energy-dense manufactured foods and sugar-sweetened beverages), as well as inadequate – and declining – amounts of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Obesity in children and adolescents is a particularly serious issue. Not only are there immediate consequences for a child’s health, well-being and/or social life, but there are also further-reaching implications. There is strong scientific research showing that obese children and adolescents are much more likely to have unhealthy lifestyles and eating disorders in adulthood and later life, which will have significant costs – not only for those people themselves, but also for society as a whole.
Scoring for Health is a collaborative initiative bringing together professional football clubs and foundations from six countries (Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, the UK and Ukraine) that encourages children between the ages of 7 and 13 (along with their parents) to adopt a healthy lifestyle and educates them on the value of eating healthily and being active. One of the key drivers of this project is the recent work done by the World Health Organization (as noted above), which found that obesity in children remained a major public health problem in Europe. Childhood obesity is a multifactorial disease associated with a wide range of serious health problems and social issues, including an increased risk of premature death and disability in adulthood.
There are four overarching factors which contribute to this problem:
- Poor eating habits
- Declining levels of physical activity in children
- Increasingly sedentary lifestyles
- A lack of adequate physical facilities or secure places to play
We can see, therefore, that supporting the development of healthy dietary preferences and promoting physical exercise from an early age is essential in order to prevent childhood obesity. Scoring for Health seeks to tackle these issues with a two-and-a-half-year project. Participating children take part in 20-week school-based programmes involving various activities, with a particular focus on eating habits and physical exercise, in order to provide information and encourage a healthy lifestyle. Activities in those 20-week programmes include weekly specialist interactive classes, educational sessions and workshops on topics such as nutrition, cooking and physical activity, and football sessions.
The launch events for the programmes are held at the stadiums or academies of the participating clubs, where – with first-team players in attendance – children enjoy a day of sports and games, as well as taking part in several educational workshops. Key physical indicators and determinants of health (weight, height, BMI, speed, balance, etc.) are also measured, collected and calculated for each participant, giving an instant assessment of each child’s fitness and providing a scientific basis for the future measurement of participants’ progress.
The Scoring for Health website and social media channels provide participants with online resources and tools to support their efforts, as well as allowing them to keep track of their progress and interact with their peers.
At the end of the programme, before receiving their diplomas, all children participate in the Scoring for Health closing ceremony, which again takes place at the stadium or academy of a participating club. The same physical measurements are taken, in order to allow a final comparison and show the children what they have achieved, with players from the clubs on hand to thank them for their hard work and provide advice and encouragement.
The project seeks not only to have a long-lasting impact on participating children – one that extends far beyond the duration of this initiative – but also to have an indirect impact on those children’s families, their teachers and the wider community.
Finally, the Scoring for Health project also aims to encourage other grassroots and professional football organisations to address the issue of childhood obesity.
- General objectives of the project:
- To provide accessible, informal educational activities for all participants, regardless of their socio-demographic characteristics and the current state of their health
- To educate children on healthy lifestyle choices by discussing their eating behaviours and habits, deconstructing their social beliefs regarding food, shaping their consumption, and analysing their leisure activities and their modes of transport
- To educate children about the nutritional and health issues that they could encounter with an unhealthy lifestyle through workshops and interactive educational sessions, with the aim of reducing the probability of developing unhealthy behaviours
- To help strengthen children’s motor skills and social/psychological competencies by offering high-quality play-based training sessions
- To equip football coaches (and teachers in general) with the competencies and tools that are required to educate children – and, indeed, society as a whole – on the critical need to adopt active and healthy behaviours throughout life, and to increase their understanding of this global healthcare challenge
- To help coaches/teachers to recognise and address the needs of disadvantaged and marginalised members of the community
Specific objectives for primary school teachers and local staff:
- To help professional staff and volunteers working for sports organisations (including primary school teachers) to improve the quality of nutritional awareness activities/projects aimed at children and young people
- Scoring for Health programmes will be delivered at 160 schools in eight cities across the six countries. In the course of two school years (2019/20 and 2020/21), all partners will test and deliver the Scoring for Health methodology in their own local area.
- Approximately 3,200 boys and girls will participate.
- The following resources will be developed:
- Scoring for Health trainee manual and practitioner’s guide
- Scoring for Health parent and child book
- Scoring for Health website (open/online/digital education – open education resource (OER))
- Scoring for Health social media channels
- Scoring for Health lifestyle contract
Scoring for Health diploma