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On the run

Pedometers have become standard issue in 50 schools in England as the Department of Health ups the ante in the fight against childhood obesity

Pedometers have been given to thousands of children across England to encourage them to exercise more.

Around 9,000 pedometers have been issued to children aged nine to 14 years old in 50 schools in England as part of the Schools on the Move pilot scheme, a Department of Health initiative aimed at tackling childhood obesity.

The project is a joint venture between the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Skills, and will be managed by the Youth Sport Trust.

The government has committed to stopping the year-on-year rise in obesity in children aged 11 and under by 2010. It also wants school children to participate in two hours of sport every day in the next five years.

Health minister Caroline Flint dubbed childhood obesity a "serious issue" and said that the pedometers would be effective in motivating children to become more active.

As well as being used to monitor childrenís activity, the information from the pedometers will be incorporated into maths, science and geography in an attempt to make the steps children make relevant across the curriculum.

"By raising awareness of the importance of physical activity amongst teachers and pupils, and by encouraging children to become more active, we hope to make big strides in reducing childhood obesity," said Flint.

Schools in local education authorities in Barking and Dagenham, Bradford, Devon, Leicester, North Tyneside, Nottinghamshire, Oldham, Suffolk, West Sussex and Wolverhampton are taking part in the scheme.

2nd September 2008

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