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Overcoming childhood obesity: the importance of physical activity

Overcoming childhood obesity: the importance of physical activityThe new POLHN course, Physical Activity for Healthy Islands, will be released soon. Read below to find out more about why physical activity is so important for children in the Pacific. 

Today, more than 6.2 million children in the Western Pacific are overweight. Childhood obesity is higher than ever before. Children who are overweight or obese have an increased chance of developing diabetes, asthma, sleep disorders, and depression, among other diseases. They are also much more likely to experience disability or premature death.

On the other hand, when a child engages in regular physical activity and is a healthy weight, their likelihood of developing cancer, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases. Physically active children also experience other benefits: they have better social and motor skills, a more stable mood, and better educational outcomes.

Guidelines for children’s physical activity

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that children aged 5 to 17 do at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. These activities can be as simple as running with other kids in the playground, playing rugby, or walking to school.

In order to meet these guidelines and live a healthy life, children need the support from their families, friends, teachers and the whole community. In the Pacific, one of the major current initiatives to encourage kids’ physical activity is through the health promoting schools program.

Health promoting schools

Children at St Agnes Primary School in Suva, Fiji, participating in a sport program (WHO).A joint initiative between WHO and Ministries of Health, this program is currently active in the majority of the Pacific, including Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The initiative aims to provide students with positive experiences and structures that promote and protect their health.

In terms of physical activity, health promoting schools has encouraged children to develop motor skills through implementing physical education curricula, and play more sport by installing soccer nets and rugby posts. Teachers are leading aerobics, children are growing vegetables, and community involvement is on the rise. It is the small steps like these that make a difference.

With the global number of obese children set to reach 70 million by 2025, encouraging physical activity in children is more important than ever. Reducing screen time, promoting a healthy diet and getting children outside and moving for an hour a day are essential. By taking a community-based approach, we can ensure children live the long, happy and healthy lives that they deserve.

In light of the current crisis of non-communicable diseases, POLHN will soon be releasing a course entitled Physical Activity for Healthy Islands. This self-paced program will cover the WHO guidelines for physical activity in both children and adults, focusing on strategies for the Pacific. 

 

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WHO Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health - report

WHO Western Pacific Region: Childhood Obesity

WHO Western Pacific Region: Health Promoting Schools

WHO Western Pacific Region Healthy Weight in Childhood - report

Published on: 30 May, 2017

The new POLHN course, Physical Activity for Healthy Islands, will be released soon. Read below to find out more about why physical activity is so important for children in the Pacific. 

Today, more than 6.2 million children in the Western Pacific are overweight. Childhood obesity is higher than ever before. Children who are overweight or obese have an increased chance of developing diabetes, asthma, sleep disorders, and depression, among other diseases. They are also much more likely to experience disability or premature death.

On the other hand, when a child engages in regular physical activity and is a healthy weight, their likelihood of developing cancer, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases. Physically active children also experience other benefits: they have better social and motor skills, a more stable mood, and better educational outcomes.

Guidelines for children’s physical activity

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that children aged 5 to 17 do at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. These activities can be as simple as running with other kids in the playground, playing rugby, or walking to school.

In order to meet these guidelines and live a healthy life, children need the support from their families, friends, teachers and the whole community. In the Pacific, one of the major current initiatives to encourage kids’ physical activity is through the health promoting schools program.

Health promoting schools

A joint initiative between WHO and Ministries of Health, this program is currently active in the majority of the Pacific, including Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The initiative aims to provide students with positive experiences and structures that promote and protect their health.

In terms of physical activity, health promoting schools has encouraged children to develop motor skills through implementing physical education curricula, and play more sport by installing soccer nets and rugby posts. Teachers are leading aerobics, children are growing vegetables, and community involvement is on the rise. It is the small steps like these that make a difference.

With the global number of obese children set to reach 70 million by 2025, encouraging physical activity in children is more important than ever. Reducing screen time, promoting a healthy diet and getting children outside and moving for an hour a day are essential. By taking a community-based approach, we can ensure children live the long, happy and healthy lives that they deserve.

In light of the current crisis of non-communicable diseases, POLHN will soon be releasing a course entitled Physical Activity for Healthy Islands. This self-paced program will cover the WHO guidelines for physical activity in both children and adults, focusing on strategies for the Pacific.

See more

Applications Open: POLHN Sponsorship for FNU courses

SEMESTER 2, 2017 APPLICATIONS OPEN FROM 29 MAY TO 27 JUNE

Published on: 28 May, 2017

Each year, POLHN sponsors more than 100 students to complete their postgraduate study through Fiji National University (FNU). This POLHN sponsorship joint initiative between the WHO and FNU has been extremely successful, and hundreds of students have graduated from sponsored units in the past 10 years.

The POLHN sponsorship programs are exclusively for health care workers in Pacific Island countries. The units of study are ideal because they can be undertaken completely online via e-learning. Certificates, diplomas and Masters degrees are available in fields such as applied epidemiology and public health.

Earlier this month, Minister for Health Rosy Akbar and WHO Regional Director Dr Shin Young-soo visited Fijian hospitals, where they praised POLHN’s success. There are now more than 30,000 students enrolled in the online platform.

Since 2005, WHO has funded 50 Pacific healthcare workers per semester for postgraduate studies at Fiji National University School of Medicine. This successful joint initiative has seen students graduate from with qualifications in fields such as public health and epidemiology.

The semester 2 round of applications for FNU sponsorship is open from 29 May to 27 June. For information on applying, click here.

WHO Regional Director: “You should be proud of POLHN”

Published on:  11 May, 2017

Last week, WHO Regional Director of the Western Pacific Region, Dr Shin Young-soo, visited Fiji. From Suva to Levuka, visiting POLHN learning centres across the country was one of the main purposes of his visit.

Beginning his POLHN visit at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva, Dr Shin met with high level officials and explored the brand new POLHN learning centre. He spoke about how far the program had come, from when it had very low enrolment at the start of his term in 2009. Since then, there has been heavy investment from WHO and health ministries across the South Pacific, which has made a considerable difference.

The new learning centre at CWM is fitted with brand new computers and hosts numerous workshops. The number of nurses and doctors enrolling in POLHN is also steadily increasing. Dr Shin told workers at the Hospital that this was an achievement that they should be incredibly proud of.

The Regional Director’s visit also took him to Levuka. Along with Minister for Health Rosy Akbar, he spent a morning at Levuka Hospital. There, he saw public health in action at a more rural location. There, he also visited the Hospital’s POLHN learning centre. A training workshop was taking place at the time on infection prevention and control, hosted by Devina Gaundan. The workshop was an incredible success, and nine hospital workers successfully graduated from the program that day.

Impressed with what he saw in Suva and Levuka, Dr Shin now wants to see an expansion of POLHN. The aim now is to work even closer with governments, to get more accreditation of courses and more and more programs added online. Inspired by POLHN’s success, East Asian countries such as Laos and Cambodia now want to implement a similar program.

Visiting all the way from Manila, the Regional Director seeing POLHN in action has given both students and POLHN officers renewed faith in the program. Today, POLHN has more than 30,000 enrolled users and 45 learning centres across the South Pacific. Dr Shin’s increasing support will undoubtedly translate into further expansion in the coming years.

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WHO/Y. Shimizu