Nursing and health professionals are welcoming government plans to test school pupils’ fitness levels.
Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson plans annual “bleep tests” to help identify those at risk of heart disease, diabetes and other problems.
In England, the rate of decline is 7% to 9%, regardless of obesity levels.
Under the scheme, which follows the lead of US schools, parents would get letters about their child’s fitness and advice on how the family can help improve it.
Janet Davies, executive director of nursing and service delivery at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: “School nurses can offer expert advice to children as soon as they start school to help and encourage healthy habits into adulthood.
“We are, however, aware that there is a serious shortfall in school nursing provision, and many pupils cannot access this advice.
“This must be tackled to prevent future generations from suffering unnecessarily from something as simple as inactivity.”
Dr David Vickers, registrar at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “We strongly welcome this report. We continue to be extremely concerned about child obesity as it damages children’s physical and mental health and the harmful effects continue into adulthood.”