OPINION: Dance can tackle childhood obesity claims UEL senior dance lecturer Robert Nicholson

PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:50 07 August 2017


The proportion of 10 and 11-year-olds who were obese in 2015-16 was 19.8 per cent, up from 19.1pc the previous year, while obesity among four and five-year-olds was 9.3pc, up from 9.1pc.

It is now vital young people have an understanding of how different forms of health and fitness can have a positive impact on their health.

With the introduction of new physical activity guidelines (under the previous coalition government) and the rise of dance shows on television such as Strictly Come Dancing and constant dance appearances on shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, it is clear dance is a form of fitness young people may be interested in engaging with.

The University of East London (UEL), which prides itself on being London’s top university for civic engagement, provided me with funding this year to establish a project focusing on exploring the role of dance, as a form of fitness, to tackle the rise of obesity in young people.

The UEL Dance Collective worked in conjunction with students in the University’s BSc (Hons) Public Health and BSc (Hons) Health Promotion programmes to create a series of interactive marketing and promotional tools, as well as physical activity dance workshops (in various Hip-Hop dance styles), to emphasise the health benefits of dance.

Workshops were delivered in Newham schools with many commenting on their enjoyment from participating in the workshops. The project also allowed our university students to engage with workplace situations and employers.

I would like to hear from any primary school teachers in Newham who would be interested in having this free workshop delivered in their schools next year. Please email me at

• Robert Nicholson, senior lecturer in dance, University Of East London. He has over 10 years of experience dancing and performing in the UK and internationally, as well as teaching in the Higher Education and Further Education sector.

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