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Fighting obesity through rugby

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Premiership Rugby and its 12 teams are clubbing together to get schoolchildren to put down their snacks and pick up a rugby ball instead through their revolutionary Something to Chew On initiative.

In partnership with Public Health England, the powerful and engaging programme is delivering an exciting approach to schools across the country, with the aim to encourage children to become healthier through tag rugby and classroom-based exercises.

One hundred and twenty children from 12 schools who have taken part in Something to Chew On are set to participate in a tag rugby showcase on the hallowed Twickenham turf prior to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final, and Premiership Rugby Community and CSR Development Manager Lydia Good is confident the initiative is making huge waves.

"When you watch the news, you see the focus on sugar, both its impact on health and how important it is to reduce how much we eat," she said.

"Finding ways to encourage children to change their eating habits is not easy!

"Programmes like Something to Chew On, which make learning fun and interactive, are one of the best ways to get children to consider their lifestyle choices in a new way.

"We deliver this programme across England and work in the top 20 per cent of the most deprived areas in the country."

Something to Chew On is educating more than 4,000 seven to nine-year-old children about healthy eating and 144 teachers across 72 schools have also been trained to coach tag rugby so that they can deliver lessons as part of the curriculum to tackle the obesity epidemic across England.

Dr Louis Levy, Head of Nutrition Science Diet and Obesity at Public Health England (PHE), added that the organisation were proud to partner the programme having seen it in action.

"PHE is pleased to see the continuing success of Something to Chew On," he said.

"Given that on average children are eating three times more sugar than the maximum recommended amount, as well as not consuming enough fruit and vegetables each day, the Something to Chew On programme could not be more important. An unhealthy diet high in salt, fat and sugar and one which has too many calories, can lead to the build-up of fat inside the body, which can cause serious diseases in the future."

Sherborne Primary School has seen a positive impact on children’s food choices and made them more active, with Bath Rugby’s coaches providing both classroom nutrition sessions and outdoor tag-rugby training.

PE co-ordinator Ruth Layton admits heading to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final will be a huge occasion for everyone at the school.

"We really can’t wait to be a part of the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham. When the kids find out they will be so excited beyond words; to be able to go and play at the home of rugby will be absolutely amazing – and the staff will be just as excited!"

Something to Chew On Schools at Twickenham on 28 May:

Abingdon Primary – Newcastle Falcons
Bracken Leas Primary School – Northampton Saints
Claycots School – London Irish
Clyst Heath Nursery and Community Primary School – Exeter Chiefs
Coney Hill Primary School – Gloucester
Courthouse Green Primary School – Wasps
Heathbrook Primary School – Harlequins
Orion Primary School – Saracens
Sherborne Primary School – Bath Rugby
St Andrew’s C of E Primary School – Sale Sharks
St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School – Leicester Tigers
Sytchampton Primary School – Worcester Warriors

If you want to be at the world’s biggest club rugby final, this year’s Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 28 May at Twickenham, tickets are available from premiershiprugby.com/final

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