Australian Olympian Jane Flemming says schoolkids should have to stand up in half their lessons to battle the bulge. She is also campaigning to move drop-off zones further from the school gates to entice children to walk more.
The former heptathlete and long jumper says obesity has reached crisis point. One in four Australian children aged two to 17 is now overweight or obese.
“I would love to see legislation that requires every second school lesson to be at a stand-up desk, and for safe drop off zones for schools to be further from the gate.”
“It is about incidental activity and getting people off their butts. The biggest decline in physical activity occurs the day someone starts school.”
Flemming, who will discuss obesity at the Australian Medical Association’s national conference on Sunday, added….“Sitting is just a shocker for brain function and physical health. When I was at school the fat kid was considered the stand out whereas now they are the norm.”
Regarding drop-off zones, Flemming said: “It’s trying to encourage people to move more. People need to get into the habit of using their legs in the form of transport.”
Flemming competed at two Olympics and won two gold medals at the 1990 Commonwealth Games, in long jump and the heptathlon, in which she scored a record total.
The Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute probed the benefits of height-adjustable desks with a trial at Mont Albert Primary School in 2014.
Students reported better concentration, and although there was no change in their “weight status” the school now uses a mix of desks.
But a later Deakin University trial at two high schools found students who had height-adjustable desks cut their class time spent sitting by 40 per cent. They also expended 38 kilocalories more per lesson — enough to prevent 5kg in weight gain over a year.
The institute’s head of physical activity research, Prof David Dunstan, said reducing the time children spent sitting had health benefits.
“The movement from sitting to standing throughout the day is likely to lead to increased blood flow,” he said.
“We are becoming more aware that too much sitting is not good for health.