Singapore's national movement for sport and physical activity is setting its sights on pre-schoolers, hoping to kick-start good habits through a new physical exercise and nutrition programme.
Under Nurture Kids, tots between four and six years old will get to work out and learn about the food they should be eating.
Mr Lai Chin Kwang, chief of ActiveSG, which developed the programme with dairy company FrieslandCampina Asia, said: "We hope that by starting them at a young age, the children will develop a lifelong habit to stay active and healthy."
Both parties said the programme was created because of growing childhood obesity in Singapore.
"About 10 per cent of children aged five are overweight, while 43 per cent of obese children are likely to stay obese as adults. If left uncurbed, obesity will rise from 11 per cent to 15 per cent of Singapore's population by 2024," they said in a statement yesterday.
Eight pre-schools will give the programme a test run, including Pat's School House, MindChamps at Ang Mo Kio and four PCF Sparkletots branches.
The pilot began in mid-August and will run for 40 weeks, with an assessment of the programme at the end of 10 weeks. It is free for the schools.
Percentage of children aged five who are overweight.
Percentage of Singapore's population obese by 2024, if left uncurbed.
Number of weeks the pilot will last. It began in mid-August.
Depending on the results, ActiveSG said it might be scaled up and rolled out to more pre-schools.
The plan is for expert coaches trained by ActiveSG to run hour-long sessions twice a week at pre-schools.
Children will learn "fundamental movement skills", like dodging and leaping over obstacles and throwing and catching balls.
In addition, there will be nutrition workshops involving storytelling and games.
Executive principal of PCF Sparkletots Karen Lee said physical activity is vital for young children.
"It helps to raise happy and confident children. Children are also more likely to focus in class and it gives them a sense of belonging by being part of a team," she added.
Kidz Meadow Childcare and Development Centre principal Amaninah Khader said pre-schools have their own exercise sessions, but a programme such as Nurture Kids might be a helpful add-on.
She said pre-schools must set aside an hour a day for a physical activity of the school's own choosing. At Kidz Meadow, the children play games that hone their locomotive skills and agility. They learn about food groups during mealtimes.
"This pilot seems interesting," she said.
"Pre-schools are not lacking in physical education, but it may be beneficial for them to have more structured, comprehensive programmes. Even if it raises fees, parents will be willing to spend money to help kids be creative and active."