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Health chiefs launch Disney-themed games to encourage children to exercise in latest bid to halt spiralling obesity crisis

Health bosses have launched a series of Disney-themed exercise games aimed at young children in their latest bid to curb Britain’s spiraling childhood obesity crisis. 

The 28 team-based activities are inspired by family favourites such as Toy Story, The Lion King, Frozen and The Incredibles. 

Information packs with how to play the 10-minute games will be handed out across 16,500 state schools in England over summer.

Pupils will be encouraged to take the games, such as Elsa’s Freeze Tag, home and play them to stay active during the holidays.   

Public Health England hope the games will push children towards the 60 minutes of exercise they need every day.

Health bosses have launched a series of Disney-themed exercise games aimed at young children in their latest bid to curb Britain's spiraling childhood obesity crisis. One of the games is Elsa's Freeze Tag - based on the 2013 animated hit

Health bosses have launched a series of Disney-themed exercise games aimed at young children in their latest bid to curb Britain’s spiraling childhood obesity crisis. One of the games is Elsa’s Freeze Tag – based on the 2013 animated hit

The 28 team-based activities are inspired by family favourites such as Toy Story, The Lion King, Frozen and The Incredibles. Each game should be played for at least 10 minutes

The 28 team-based activities are inspired by family favourites such as Toy Story, The Lion King, Frozen and The Incredibles. Each game should be played for at least 10 minutes 

The NHS says youngsters between five and 18 need a minimum of one hour of exercise – ranging from moderate to vigorous – each day. 

This can include cycling and playground activities to running and playing football or tennis. 

According to NHS figures, just over a third – about 170,000 – of the half a million children who left primary school last year were overweight to some degree. 

One in five leavers were obese, equivalent to 111,290 pupils. This includes 4.1 per cent, equivalent to 22,646 pupils, who were severely obese.  

Youngsters are twice as likely to be dangerously obese aged 11 as when they started in reception class aged four.

This is despite hundreds of millions being poured into healthier school meals, new PE equipment and extra sports coaches.

The NHS recommends at least an hour of physical activity ranging from moderate activity, such as cycling and playground games, to vigorous activity, such as running and tennis. 

The games are being rolled out as part of the Change4Life 10 Minute Shake Up campaign by Public Health England, Disney UK and Sports England. 

Public Health England said the games help count towards the 60 minutes of exercise children need every day. Some of the activities are based on characters from The Lion King

Public Health England said the games help count towards the 60 minutes of exercise children need every day. Some of the activities are based on characters from The Lion King 

Games include an Incredibles-themed dodgeball and a Toy Story variation of hide and seek

Games include an Incredibles-themed dodgeball and a Toy Story variation of hide and seek

Elsa’s Freeze Tag, inspired by Frozen, sees one youngster play the Disney princess while the rest of the group run away.

If ‘tagged’, players have to stand frozen in one spot with their legs wide open and wait for someone to crawl under them to free them. 

Buzz’s Space Run, based on the space ranger from the Toy Story series, requires players to stand in a line with their arms stretched out wide like Buzz’s wings.

They then have to do three laps – one facing forward, one backwards and a third by sidestepping. 

Other games include an Incredibles-themed dodgeball and a Toy Story variation of hide and seek. 

HOW FAT ARE BRITISH CHILDREN?

English children are fatter than ever – official data revealed in October that one in every 25 10 to 11-year-olds are severely obese, the fattest possible category.

And out of around 556,000 children of primary school-leaving age in the UK, 170,000 are overweight to some degree, figures showed in May last year.

More than one in five 11-year-olds are obese – equivalent to around 111,000 children – and being so fat means they are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer or have a stroke.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health say children should be weighed every year at school because ‘danger is on the horizon’ and the UK is lagging behind the rest of the EU in tackling obesity.

Experts have also warned children gain weight ‘at a drastic rate’ when they’re at school. 

Sugar in food is known to be contributing to the swelling waistlines of children, with huge amounts of popular foods crammed full of sugar.

A sugar tax has reduced the effects of some soft drinks, but breakfast cereals can still contain more than 70 per cent of an entire day’s sugar in a single bowl.

Even a single can of Coca Cola (35g of sugar) or one Mars bar (33g) contain more than the maximum amount of sugar a child should have over a whole day. 

‘Unless we tackle this obesity crisis, today’s obese children will become tomorrow’s obese adults whose years of healthy life will be shortened by a whole host of health problems,’ Izzi Seccombe, of the Local Government Association, said in May. 

Eustace de Sousa, national lead for children, young people and families at Public Health England, said: ‘Across England, children’s physical activity levels are worryingly low, with only a fifth of boys meeting the guidelines and an even smaller number of girls. 

‘We must combat this or risk facing a generation of inactive children who won’t experience the wide health and wellbeing benefits of physical activity. 

‘Getting children into the habit of doing fun, short bursts of activity can set them up for life by improving not just their physical health but also helping them develop key life skills.’

Marianthi O’Dwyer, vice president and head of Disney Healthy Living UK said: ‘We are in a unique position to inspire families and children to be more active through our characters and the stories they tell. 

‘It’s as simple as designing 10 Minute Shake Up games based on fresh or much-loved Disney content to tap into children’s imaginations and get them moving more. 

‘We are excited to work with Change4Life for our sixth year on the 10 Minute Shake Up programme and to use the power of our characters as a force for good.’

The 10 Minute Shake Up campaign is being supported by McFly bandmember Danny Jones.

The father-of-one said: ‘I’m really surprised to see how few kids are getting active. When I was a kid, I loved being outside and being active, whether it was playing football or going on bike rides with my family. 

‘I didn’t realise at the time but being active was really important for more than just my physical health; it helped me to make friends and feel part of a group. 

‘As I got older, I began to realise that it also helped me to cope with anxiety and now it’s a huge part of my routine.’ 

Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England’s CEO said: ‘Our recent research gives us the richest evidence yet that sport and physical activity needs to be fun and enjoyable above all because enjoyment is the biggest motivator for children in getting active.

‘The Change4Life 10 Minute Shake Up games fit that brief to a tee with children’s favourite Disney characters encouraging them to move more. 

‘Sport England are delighted to be investing £1 million of National Lottery funding to support the Shake Up games in our mission to help children build a positive attitude to physical activity.’ 

To keep the kids busy this summer with 10 Minute Shake Up games from Change4Life with Disney, go to Change4Life.  

HOW TO PLAY FOUR OF THE DISNEY-THEMED GAMES

Elsa’s Freeze Tag

1. Choose one person to be Elsa.  

2. Everyone else runs away and Elsa tries to tag them. When they are tagged they must freeze. 

3. When you are frozen, you need to stand in one place with your legs open. An untagged player must crawl through your legs to unfreeze you.

4. Keep going until everyone’s frozen, then let someone else be Elsa. Use different ways of unfreezing friends! Play for at least 10 minutes. 

Buzz’s Space Run

1. Mark out a start line and finish line. Split into teams if you’re with your friends. 

2. Stand on the start line with your arms spread out like wings. 

3. Do the first lap running forwards, the second backwards and the third sidestepping.

4. Keep going for 10 minutes. Try to beat your record or race your friends.

Mr Incredible’s Big Jump

1. Mark out a course to jump along and pretend you’re preparing for some incredible action. Make sure you can jump from one mark to another and they’re not too far apart 

2. Take it in turns to jump along the course. 

3. Keep doing the course until you get to the end 

4. Try leapfrogging over your friends to jump higher, too. 

Simba’s Mighty Roar Jumps 

1. Run on the spot, then do a press-up. 

2. Next, jump up and do your best lion roar. Repeat and add in other animal noises for fun.

3. See if your friends can follow your moves. 

4. Can you keep going for 10 minutes?

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