Pre-school children to get one hour of physical activity a day as part of measures to promote healthy living

NurtureSG proposals emphasised a greater focus on physical activity, nutrition, and mental health starting from the preschool level. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The young will get more opportunities to take part in physical activities, within and outside schools, as part of a series of recommendations by a task force set up to study how young Singaporeans can be encouraged to adopt healthy habits.

NurtureSG's proposals, drawn up after a year of work, include paying more attention to a physical activity, nutrition, and mental health, from pre-school to tertiary level. It also emphasised the importance of good sleeping habits.

At the pre-school level, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will increase the minimum amount of time that children should spend engaged in physical activity every day. Pre-school children will get at least an hour of physical activity a day, double the current 30 minutes.

There will be no change in the length of the school day.

The Education Ministry and Health Promotion Board will work with ActiveSG to get parents involved in helping their children lead active lifestyles.

The Early Childhood Development Agency will also impose nutritional requirements, such as providing fruits on a regular basis and not serving sugary drinks or deep-fried food to pre-schoolers.

From this year onwards, all mainstream schools will implement the Healthy Meals in Schools Programme, where school canteens offer healthier food and drinks options.

In addition, the HPB plans for all Institutes of Higher Learning to have canteens serving healthier meals by 2019.

Mental health programmes for young people, such as peer support in schools, will be stepped up. The Tote Board has set aside $10 million to fund youth mental health programmes, and a research workgroup will be established to study suicidal and self-harm behaviours in people up to 35 years old. Additional support will also be provided to youths at risk.

HPB will also focus on raising awareness of the importance of healthy sleeping habits among young people and their parents.

In addition, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) will step up efforts to train preschool teachers' understanding of children's socio-emotional development.

The recommendations have been accepted by the Health Ministry and Education Ministry (MOE). The NurtureSG task force is co-led by Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min and Minister of State for Education Janil Puthucheary.

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