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University of Wollongong partners with FutureLearn to explore the global obesity epidemic facing children of the 21st century

The course, ‘Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living’, is available to join now

London, UK, 1st May 2017: FutureLearn, the leading social learning platform, today announces with the University of Wollongong, the launch of their course: ‘Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living.’

The World Health Organization states that over 42 million children worldwide under 5 years old were overweight or obese in 2014 and according to the latest figures from Public Health England, 12.8% of children aged 4-5 years old are overweight, with almost 10% deemed to be obese.

The University of Wollongong’s course examines the factors that contribute to childhood obesity, what strategies we can use to prevent it, as well as looking at tools to forge a pathway to a healthier future. The course follows the latest innovative research in childhood development and is aimed at parents and carers of children, childhood educators and childcare workers, as well as anyone considering further study in the field of child care or public health.

The course will examine 4 behavioural areas in young children:

  • Nutirition
  • Physical Activity
  • Screen time and sedentary behaviour
  • Sleep

The course will also enable learners to:

  • Explain the benefits of a healthy lifestyle for infants and young children
  • Compare and evaluate the practical approaches of putting lifestyle changes into practice in the home and/ or an early childhood education setting
  • Discuss the influence of parents and educators in establishing positive lifestyle behaviours
  • Reflect on the need to optimise good lifestyle practices in early life for long term health
  • Debate the issues that childhood obesity may pose for our population in future years
  • Identify, describe and compare the guidelines for healthy eating, physical activity, screen time and sleep from different countries
  • Report on the importance of setting goals to initiate and maintain behaviour change


Tony Okely, Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences & Director of the Early Start Research Institute, commented: “Childhood obesity is a huge issue today; many people want to know more about how to promote healthy eating, physical activity, screen time and sleep behaviours in young children in order to tackle this challenge. The course provides practical, evidence-based guidance and enables people to discuss and share their insights. We’re really excited to be running the course again; obesity is a widespread problem, so we hope to reach out to as many people as possible and provoke discussion.”

Nigel Smith, Head of Content, FutureLearn, said: “There’s no doubt that there is a growing obesity epidemic and I’m delighted that FutureLearn is able to work with our partner on educating parents and those who work with children. We have a responsibility to care for young children who have a limited understanding of the long-term consequences of their behaviours and who are therefore vulnerable to their surroundings. Learners can build their knowledge in a supportive community environment on our platform and discuss and compare lifestyle strategies for their young ones, or the children they work with. I hope our platform provides the opportunity for discussion around this very serious issue in order to help combat the problem.”

As with all FutureLearn courses, the course can be taken for free or there is the option to upgrade for £69 to get extra benefits.

Notes to editors

About FutureLearn

Founded by The Open University in 2012, FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform, enabling online learning through conversation. With almost 6 million registered learners from over 190 countries across the globe – a community that is continuously growing – it offers free and paid for online courses from world-leading UK and international universities, as well as organisations such as Microsoft, the British Council and Cancer Research UK. FutureLearn’s course portfolio covers a wealth of areas to promote lifelong learning for a range of applications including general interest, an introduction to university studies, continuing professional development and fully online postgraduate degrees.

For more information, please contact:

Rachel MacPherson, PR Executive, FutureLearn


Niamh O’Grady, Senior Communications Manager, FutureLearn



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